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UAlbany Counseling Center Reaches $3 Million Mark with Grant-Assisted Intervention Programs for High-Risk Students

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 13, 2005) -- The University at Albany Counseling Center has secured nearly $3 million in federal funds this year to promote educational programs and interventions to high-risk students. Today, the Counseling Center announced the receipt of a $225,000 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act for youth suicide prevention programs, signed by President Bush last October to invigorate the national effort to prevent suicide.

"Serious issues demand serious attention," said University at Albany President Kermit L. Hall, "and, the University and Counseling Center staff is committed to securing the support it needs to impact campuses nationwide. We're proud of the strides they're making and their unwavering dedication."

In June, UAlbany's Counseling Center received $295,000 from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to fund Project First STEPS, an initiative to identify and treat high-risk drinkers among first-year students at the University. And, in August, the Counseling Center received a $1.4 million SAMHSA grant to fund interventions with its students at high risk for alcohol abuse who are identified via screening through the University Health Center setting. In September, 2004, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) awarded the Counseling Center's Middle Earth peer assistance program $890,000 to research two peer-facilitated and professionally supervised interventions that prevent or reduce alcohol-related problems among college students.

"The need for these new programs is great," said SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie. "Last year alone, approximately 900,000 youth had made plans to commit suicide during their worst or most recent episode of depression."

With funds from its newest grant announced today, the University aims to enhance its existing Comprehensive Campus Suicide Prevention Model, entitled The STEPS Program, in the areas of targeted training programs to teach effective response to student mental health problems and education and distribution of early warning sign materials and risk factors. The STEPS program objectives are consistent with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (2004) recommendations to reduce the rate of student suicide attempts and increase the utilization of campus mental health and related primary care services.

The project director and principal investigator is Estela M. Rivero, the director of the University Counseling Center. The co-project directors are Joseph E. Bernier, assistant director for training and evaluation at the Counseling Center and M. Dolores Cimini, psychologist and director of UAlbany's award-winning Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program. Dr. Drew A. Anderson from the Department of Psychology will serve as the project evaluator.

"The SAMHSA grant will allow the University at Albany Counseling Center to further develop a comprehensive suicide prevention program which will assist us to educate and mobilize students, faculty and professionals—our whole community—to address this growing national concern," said Rivero.

UAlbany has prepared for project implementation by expanding existing partnerships with a number of groups on and off campus, including members of the target population of college students, as well as the community-based Albany County Mobile Crisis Team.


The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages more than 16,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit

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