Staff push for more mental health training at UW-Stout

Menomonie (WQOW) – An anonymous letter is raising concerns for mental health training at UW-Stout. We spoke with the woman who wrote it and another whose experience has left her fighting for more people to pay attention. 

"I was involved in it," said a former desk advisor (DA) for Fleming-Hovlid Hall at UW-Stout. "I found the resident with back up. Reflecting back on it I should have just called campus police right away."

This former DA said she found a student who committed suicide last November at UW-Stout. She chose to stay anonymous, because she’s still employed at the school. As did this woman who wrote an anonymous letter about the lack of training she and other housing employees received. You can find the letter here on Stoutonia’s page, UW-Stout’s newspaper.

"We did not receive any mental health training at all," said the woman behind the letter and former DA. "We had a diversity seminar where they briefly mentioned some mental health disorders, but there was no conclusive mental health training."

"I don’t feel like we were properly trained at all, me especially because I wasn’t trained on anything at that time," said former Fleming-Hovlid DA.

 Doug Mell, director of  communications at UW-Stout, gave the following statement:

Assuring the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is the No. 1 priority for everyone at UW-Stout, and it is a responsibility that we take seriously. 

All our housing staff, including our resident assistants, are given training to ensure they are qualified to deliver quality care and services to the students who live in our residence halls.  Resident Advisor staff receive mental health and diversity training as part of their overall training regimen before the start of the fall semester.  Moreover, individual staff teams have on-going training in a number of areas throughout the academic year.  Live-in professional staff also receive training on mental health first aid so they can serve as a resource for student staff.

The dedicated staff of our residence halls, as well as everyone at UW-Stout, is committed to maintaining a responsive and transparent campus community.  We work hard every day to earn the trust of our students, employees and external stakeholders.

However, the workers we spoke with say the training was minimal.

"Diversity, the training in the fall was, I believe, an hour and a half long," said the author of the letter. "And we had one little five minute or 10 minute section on mental health."

She also said she hopes her letter prompts addressing the problems of mental health and suicide. 

"I don’t think that it’s a problem on Stout campus," said the author of the letter. "I think it’s just a problem in the world. I think we should really address it, because it comes down to if you can help people, I think that you should always try to help people."

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