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Can students volunteer at the Dartmouth Counseling Center to receive training, support therapy, or join a 24-hour hotline? I have been involved in a lot of mental health advocacy in high school and I want to continue doing so at Dartmouth.

A: Adrian Chimboza '25

There are many ways that you can get involved with counseling services, mental health services, and even sexual assault prevention services at Dartmouth. I have created a list that encompasses Dartmouth's student organizations, counseling and wellness centers, wellness programs, Wise's Volunteer Crisis Line Advocates, and Dartmouth's training programs that students are able to participate in during their four years in college. This list is, however, not exhaustive.

1) The Student Wellness Center at Dartmouth College strives to create a community in which all members can thrive. By providing you with opportunities for reflection, connection, intention, and action, the center equips you with the skills to navigate everything life brings you so that you can do well and be well. Whether it's exploring their robust offerings of mindfulness meditation and yoga, speaking with a trained listener in a one-on-one setting during a Wellness Check-In or BASICS session, or getting involved with the Sexual Violence Prevention Project, our goal is to provide building blocks for creating the life you want to be living.

2) The Student Support Network (SSN) at Dartmouth College is a four-week training program held in the fall and spring terms through a collaboration between the Counseling Center and the Student Wellness Center. The training is designed to help participants develop and hone skills to help their friends in crisis or distress. Through a combination of didactic and experiential learning opportunities, participants will acquire skills that will enable them to: identify warning signs of a friend who's struggling, understand the role of empathy when helping someone in crisis, connect friends to resources, and learn effective communication skills. The main goal of the SSN is to expand and enrich campus support for Dartmouth students who are struggling. SSN is a part of the Dartmouth Cares Initiative which is focused on mental health awareness, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention. Graduate and undergraduate students trained in SSN are part of the network of campus resources.

3) Dartmouth Cares is a mental health awareness, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention initiative by the Counseling Center committed to 1) Promoting a caring and inclusive community in which the stigma associated with mental health problems is reduced. 2) Training members of the Dartmouth community as gatekeepers to recognize students at potential risk and refer to appropriate services, 3) Providing educational programs and disseminating informational materials related to wellness, health promotion, and suicide prevention.

Gatekeepers are individuals who are in regular contact with students. As a result of that contact, gatekeepers are able to assist by identifying and referring students in crisis to the appropriate mental health resources. They offer Campus Connect Gatekeeper training, which is an evidence-based suicide prevention and crisis intervention program recognized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in their Best Practice Registry. The Campus Connect training assists members of the Dartmouth campus in increasing knowledge of suicide warning signs, teaching and enhancing response skills when working with at-risk students, enhancing self-efficacy when responding to students in crisis, and when referring students in crisis to the appropriate campus resources.

4) The Sexual Assault Peer Alliance (SAPAs) is a group of Dartmouth students invested in providing informed, empathic, and empowerment-based support to Dartmouth peers impacted by sexual and gender-based violence. They have completed a 34-hour comprehensive training program and are equipped with specialized knowledge in gender-based violence, the impact of such violence, campus resources, and providing positive, peer support to fellow students.

5) Volunteer Crisis Line Advocates: Volunteer Advocates are an integral component of WISE's 24-hour advocacy response. Advocates are fully trained on the dynamics of violence and are equipped with the skills to provide advocacy, support, and resources both over the phone and on-site at local emergency departments and police stations. Volunteers staff two shifts per month on our crisis line during nights, weekends, and holidays. The volunteer on-call schedule is flexible, and volunteers are paired with an experienced backup and given a pager to be able to respond to calls safely from their homes. There are also opportunities for those who complete the training to volunteer at the WISE program center during the day. Volunteer advocates must participate in both the Foundations of Gender-Based Violence and Supporting Survivors Training. These trainings take place in the spring and fall.

6) The mission of Dartmouth's Student Mental Health Union (DSMHU) is to 1) Provide and connect students with mental health information and resources, 2) Advocate on behalf of students struggling with mental health concerns 3) Integrate diverse perspectives of mental health on campus through various programming 4) Bridge and maintain a constructive dialogue between the various mental health resources on campus.

Below are a few ways to help make a difference through DSMHU:

- Train as a peer support volunteer! Dartmouth's mental health peer support program provides a private, student-run space where students can talk about anything on their minds in a safe, judgment-free zone.

- Become a Mental Health Ambassador! Join the forefront of mental health advocacy and destigmatization on campus by attending a short training so that you can host information and resource training sessions for other student organizations.

- Help facilitate discussions between students and admin, including Dick's House counseling and the Student Wellness Center.

For more information use the following links:

Dartmouth College Health Services

Dartmouth Student Wellness Center


Dartmouth Mental Health Student Union

Dartmouth Student Organizations

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