Campuses remind students there are mental health resources available to them if needed

SPOKANE, Wash. - As the news of Pullman's loss swept across the country, most couldn't help but feel sad, especially on college campuses.

"Its kind of like the ripples when you drop a stone into a lake, the ripples and impact are very widespread," said Nicola Mannetter, Assistant Director of Case Management at Gonzaga University's Center for Cura Personalis.

She says the school has a number of resources for students that need mental health help.

That begins with a trained staff that knows what to look for in students that might be having a tough time. 

"We are here to help each other and we want to take care of each other," said Mannetter.

She says the school is now offering additional training for staff and students in mental health first aid. 

They have also begun a new program called Zags helping Zags, which draws from the concept that friends, fellow students, and family are the first line of support. 

The program allows them to submit a student's name to the center, which will then reach out to the student. 

"Anybody can refer a student to us, it could be a student, staff member, teacher, parent or friend from home," Mannetter said. 

At Whitworth University, the approach is similar. The school trains all students and staff to be the first line of defense, and most importantly, to say something. 

If a student is brought to the counseling center's attention, they will reach out to the student no matter what. 

"We don't want students falling through the cracks," said Director of Counseling Monica Whitlock. "We will honour their privacy but we are going to make the mistake of reaching out even if they don't need us."

From there it's about big picture, making sure there is not a stigma against seeking help. 

"If counseling sounds strange, we will meet them for consultations, or meet for coffee we will do what we can to make the resources more accessible to students," said Whitlock. 

Both universities want students to know they aren't alone and that many of their peers come in for help for mental health concerns ranging from homesickness to suicidal thoughts. 

They also want you to know there is always hope, its out there, you might just need someone to help you find it. 

If you need help immediately, there is 24/7 help available on the national suicide hotline. 

The number is 1-800-273-8255.