Students support new mobile crisis response program ‘OSU Assist’ | News
CORVALLIS, Pray. — There is a lot of talk about mental health and how the pandemic has changed the scope of it.
Officials at Oregon State University said they recognize the problem and want to ensure campus is a place where students can seek help.
“If students and staff are not safe, then we’re not able to do our education,” said Steve Clark, Vice President of University Relations.
Starting this fall, OSU launched a new mobile crisis response program called OSU Assist. It’s comprised of a team of crisis response professionals who get dispatched to situations where law enforcement isn’t needed.
“A 911 call goes to our dispatch center and then our dispatcher is able to identify what their need is,” said Clark. “Not every welfare of a person’s matter requires law enforcement.”
Aubrie Piper is the assistant dean of student affairs. She said the program is in partnership with the public safety department.
“It’s intended to be a really thoughtful collaboration,” said Piper. “Sometimes the call might warrant OSU Assist to go out, sometimes it might warrant public safety to go out, and sometimes it can be a collaborative response.”
KEZI spoke to students on campus who said they support the new program.
“I think police train to solve crimes and problems instead of helping people with mental illness,” said student Joohwang Lee. “I think people feel more okay asking for help with counselors than police.”
Connor Sun also weighed in.
“I think it’s really cool,” said Sun, “Mental health is a huge issue in our generation and having a specialized group of people can be really calming.”
Graduate student Krisna Patel said if a similar program was in her undergraduate campus, it may have saved her friend’s life.
“I think all college campuses should have something like this,” said Patel. “Actually in my undergrad campus, one of my friends unfortunately passed away due to sexual assault on campus, because we didn’t have a team of providers or any people there to help.”
OSU officials said OSU Assist is just another resource to the number of mental health resources already available on campus. This includes counseling and psychological services, as well as a mobile app called “My SSP: Anytime Anywhere.”
The app allows students to connect with counselors in real time online.
OSU Assist operates from 1 pm to 1 am Wednesday through Sunday. The team only responds to on-campus calls.