by Elizabeth Clarke
Representatives from Central Louisiana Human Services District held a Youth Crisis Intervention Training at Louisiana Christian University to train staff in Student Services how to better assist students in crisis situations.
The day-long session covered topics related to the adolescent brain and mental health, and how to de-escalate situations, including suicidal threats, that may arise from students in mental and emotional crisis.
Prior to this training, if a crisis situation with a student arose, a faculty or staff member didn’t have the resources to assist, but just called Campus Security or Couseling, said Chief of Security John Dauzat. But sometimes they weren’t available or were handling another situation.
“This training will assist staff to know how to keep a situation from escalating until help arrives,” Dauzat said.
Dauzat said LCU is the first institution of higher education in all the parishes of Central Louisiana to receive Crisis Intervention Training for Youth.
One of the most important things that needs to happen on any campus, according to Skylar Anthony, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with Caring Choices Substance Abuse Clinic, is to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness, she told LCU staff members.
“All it takes is for one person to come forward who says ‘I don’t have it all together,’” Anthony said. “Hate is loud; I’m not good enough is loud. Acceptance, love and tolerance can be loud, too, and it can echo.”
Once the positive drowns out the negative stigma, more students will see they have a safe and loving place to seek help, she said.
“Society defines what is normal, but we allow that to be,” said Mollie Wise, assistant professor of psychology and one of the campus counselors. “But we don’t have to.”
This training is helping ensure that LCU is an enviroment where students don’t have to be in fear of being broken or judged if they speak up about mental health struggles, said Melinda Draper, executive assistant to Student Student Support Services and Spiritual/Cultural coordinator.
Dean of Students Brian Manuel was also one of staff trained Thursday.
“The CIT training puts another tool into our belt and helps us to serve our students better,” Manuel said. “We hope never to have to use the training we received, but if we have a student in crisis, we now know how to approach the situation and handle the issues they are facing.”
Dauzat said this training will also be done with the student residence hall directors.
“Campus safety is the chief priority for our students, faculty, staff and visitors to the University,” said President Dr. Rick Brewer. “Being named the Safest College in Louisiana by Niche.com in 2020 is recognition that illustrates the priority we’ve placed on additional surveillance cameras, exterior lights, RAVE communications, and training.”
Brewer said parents tell him time and again how grateful they are for the University’s faithful expansion of security and safety measures, and “CIT training is another tactical piece of the commitment we have to provide a safe and welcoming environment at LCU.”
Photos by Karen Carter