by Shannon Thomason

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In times of uncertainty, our everyday lives can become more stressful and overwhelming.UABCares2

The University of Alabama at Birmingham cares deeply about the overall health and well-being of its entire campus community. To reach those in need, UAB has established the UAB CARES Suicide Prevention Initiative.

The mission of UAB Cares is to support and assist the entire UAB community — no matter who they are — in finding the help they need and ensuring they know they are important and matter. It includes resources for suicide education, prevention, intervention, response, follow-up and post-vention.

UAB Cares was built by a task force of UAB graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, staff and administrators, appointed by UAB President Ray Watts, senior vice president of Academic Affairs, Provost Pam Benoit and Vice President of Student Affairs John Jones.

UAB is a supportive, inclusive community where everyone matters and the overall health —including the mental health and wellbeing — of our students, faculty and staff is paramount, Watts says.

“With the launch of UAB CARES, we are providing thoughtful and accessible resources to help anyone on our campus who is in need, and to help others recognize mental health concerns and appropriately intervene,” Watts said. “I thank Dr. Angela Stowe and all the members of our institution-wide task force for their outstanding work on this important initiative, which will effectively serve our entire campus as we continue working together to serve our community and state.”

UAB Cares offers resources online at uab.edu/uabcares, including a section with emergency crisis contacts for those who need help right now.

No matter who you are in the UAB
community, remember that you matter, and
you are important. There is help available
today.

To best support student needs, UAB has provided help for students to continue to thrive academically and reach their future career pursuits. Prioritizing employees’ mental health and well-being is important for them in maintaining good relationships with family, co-workers and even themselves; the employee resources offer support in times of trouble. 

Sometimes family, friends and colleagues need an extra helping hand. UAB Cares also has information on how people can educate themselves on mental health and help others, including how to adequately recognize mental health concerns and appropriately intervene, and which UAB and community resources are available to connect someone to the support they need. 

The task force underwent a yearlong systematic process that included reviewing evidence-based suicide-prevention approaches, identifying a theoretical model to UABCaresBOXguide recommendations, benchmarking against other institutions, conducting a deep audit of existing programs and services for students at UAB, identifying gaps and opportunities, and conducting a needs assessment of undergraduate, graduate and professional students about their perceptions of mental health support of UAB as well as their needs, says Angela Stowe, Ph.D., director of Student Counseling Services.

“UAB has invested significant resources in suicide-prevention, and our senior leadership is placing high priority on making sure our students and employees know that their lives are important and that we have resources available to them,” Stowe said. “UAB Cares is the result of a great deal of work over the course of two years. Developing the brand and toolkit was an essential foundational step to working toward the committee’s other recommendations.”

The university engaged the Kognito Education Platform, a simulation-based, interactive module that teaches people how to recognize signs of distress and how to have a conversation with someone they may be concerned about.  

“This platform is a huge part of this initiative because it allows us to provide education about how to intervene on a large-scale, enterprise-wide level, by providing access for every person at UAB to learn how to help make a difference,” Stowe said.

Resources for students include:

Student Counseling Services and Student Counseling CrisisStudent Health ServicesTAO Self-Help Platform for Studentsonline screenings and resourcesStudent OutreachBlazer Kitchen at Hill Student Center, Blazer Kitchen in Medical Towers, and Kognito Educational Platform (or https://go.uab.edu/Kognito).

Resources for employees include:

Employee Assistance and Counseling CenterCode Blaze Community Resources, resources for faculty/staff, resources for UAB Medicine/physiciansonline mental health screeningsMyStrengths Self-Help Platform for EmployeesKognito Educational Platform (or https://go.uab.edu/Kognito), stress management resourcesmental health toolsUAB Medicine Well-being Indexsupport for managersUAB Benevolent Fund, and UAB Blazer Kitchen.