Montclair State University was given a grant of $850,000 by the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education this July for mental health services.
The grant is known as the “Mental Health in Higher Education: Community Provider Partnership and Professional Development Grant.” The grant promises to have exponential impacts on student life as well as student well-being.
The grant money funds were received recently.
According to Dawn Soufleris, the Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life, one of the ways this grant will be used is to accommodate students by building nap pods on campus. The grant funds will also go toward training faculty on handling mental health matters and training Pebbles the pupscot to be a therapy dog. Soufleris already has many exciting prospects for the future of campus life with this grant.
The nap pods for students will be on campus sooner than expected.
“We have identified the nap pods that we would like to have on campus, and they will be on campus as soon as possible,” Soufleris said.
Part of the funds are already being used to train Pebbles the pupscot.
“We have already dedicated some of the grant funding to Pebbles for puppy training and ultimately therapy dog training,” Soufleris said.
Jack Nacht, a sophomore political science major, thinks other students may favor the university’s current ideas for mental health advancement, specifically training Pebbles as a therapy dog.
“I bet a lot of people would find it fun and helpful,” Nacht said.
Nacht had his own ideas on how the university could expand on mental health even further.
“It might be helpful to have occasional events hosted by mental health experts where students can attend,” Nacht said.
Soufleris said mental health help will be extended to faculty and staff.
“Our staff in [CAPS] will be providing Mental Health First Aid to as many of our faculty and staff as possible,” Soufleris said.
The university’s mental health providers will also be taught to work better with students of different backgrounds.
“In addition, the grant money will provide professional development and training for our CAPS staff and other providers regarding cultural competence in the work they do with our students.”
Students appear to be excited about the potential that this grant has to offer, as well as Montclair State’s current attention to mental health.
Zoe Ponzio, a freshman undecided, had uplifting thoughts on Montclair State’s mental health advocacy.
“The drop-in center is great for students,” Ponzio said. “I think they are very supportive and welcoming. I also just signed up for Uwill, the online therapy program.”
Fellow undecided freshman, Sarah Avila, said mental health is already a big focus for students and staff alike.
“Getting mental health help is really easy here. and a lot of my professors reinforce mental health,’’ Avila said. “One of my professors even has it in the syllabus.”
Soufleris said the grant will have a rippling effect.
“The plans that are in place for how it will be utilized by CAPS and [Student Development and Campus Life] will truly make a difference in the support we provide and the sense of belonging we can create for our students,” Soufleris said. “Especially in regards to mental health, it is incredibly important for students to feel trust, comfort, and a positive sense of wellbeing in order to be successful. We believe this grant will assist us in providing that environment at Montclair.”