The U.S. Department of Education’s Project SERV grants $570,000 to fund needed counseling services in wake of last May’s shootings

C.A.P.S. plans to temporarily hire more staff members and Student Affairs proposes to expand physical space for mental health services. Alex Nagase/Daily Nexus

C.A.P.S. plans to temporarily hire more staff members and Student Affairs proposes to expand physical space for mental health services. Alex Nagase/Daily Nexus

Congresswoman Lois Capps announced that the university will receive a federal grant of roughly half a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Education (D.O.E.) to fund mental health services to address the increased need for counseling following the shooting in Isla Vista last spring.

The $570,000 grant was given by the D.O.E.’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) programs and administered by the Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Project SERV is a financial award typically granted in as emergency funding to assist educational institutions facing a crisis. The grant enables existing campus-based mental health services provided by Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) to expand by temporarily hiring additional staff members.

Director of C.A.P.S. Jeanne Stanford said it is “both sad and impressive” that the D.O.E. has an office to respond to violence in schools.

“Many schools, colleges and universities have benefited from these funds to increase mental health services after episodes of violence,” Stanford said in an email. “This award is critical to our ability to continue to serve the increased needs of our community in the aftermath of the tragic violence in Isla Vista.”

Student Affairs will propose to use the grant money to lease office and reception space on the second floor of the I.V. Clinic at 970 Embarcadero Del Mar, Senior Associate Dean of Student Life Debbie Fleming said. Fleming also said the grant will allow for expansion of campus staff to provide mental health and wellness services as well as more campus advocacy and prevention services to students.

“The shared suite would house four counseling psychologists from CAPS, a sexual violence advocate and a sexual violence educator from C.A.R.E. and an additional student mental health coordinator, along with a receptionist/administrative assistant,” Fleming said in an email.

Fleming said the facility could be used to host a variety of services in addition to mental health, including campus community-building events and activities.

“Both C.A.P.S. and C.A.R.E. would anticipate scheduling group activities and meetings, as well as some programs open to the broader community in the meeting rooms and in the nearby church building once it is renovated as a community center,” Fleming said in an email.

Associate Dean of Wellness Services Angela Andrade said she is “thrilled about the grant” and that the funds will be used to support new counseling psychologists, a social worker, a counselor for faculty and staff and an additional staff member in Student Mental Health Coordination Services (SMHCS).

“SMHCS provides outreach and support for students in distress and those concerned about a student in distress,” Andrade said. “The grant will allow us to assist more students and community members and extend our services into Isla Vista where many of our students live.”

According to Stanford, C.A.P.S. requested two additional psychologists specifically to increase availability of counseling appointments and same-day crisis intakes for students dealing with acute stress.

She also said C.A.P.S. requested resources for outreach to students, staff, faculty, teaching assistants and student groups in order to allow students to be “re-stimulated by returning to Isla Vista and campus, especially in anticipation of the year commemoration of the May 2014 tragedy.”

“[C.A.P.S. will] increase the number of grief and trauma groups offered for those affected,” Stanford said in an email, “and increase number of places/locations on and off campus where psychologists are available.”

The increased mental health support services on campus will help reduce and possibly prevent the longer term psychological effects tragic instances like the May 23 shootings have had on campus, Stanford said.

“Together we will continue to grow stronger,” Stanford said in an email. “The funds will enable us to continue to spread the message of care for our fellow Gauchos, continue our Pathway to Healing, and encourage our community to speak up for each other as we all can benefit from an encouraging word or voice of concern.”


A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Thursday, January 15, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.