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OTC, Burrell partner in suicide prevention program

James Mulvenon

Ozarks Technical Community College has pledged to work with Burrell Behavioral Health to prevent suicides in the campus community.

OTC announced the partnership on Monday, pledging to implement Burrell’s ONE program. The community college will develop goals with a focus on mental health awareness.

Joan Barrett, vice chancellor for student affairs at OTC, says the pandemic has led to more mental health challenges among students.

“We’ve had free counseling available throughout the OTC system to students for more than 20 years, and never before have we seen as many students be referred, and frankly, take us up on that offer,” Barrett said. 

Barrett says OTC’s suicide prevention program will include professional development, mental wellness book series, and guest speakers.

Rachel Hudson, project director of the suicide prevention grant at Burrell, says the center works with organizations to develop unique goals.

“We really individualize it to the needs of each organization, so OTC would identify what their needs are, and then they would set the goals around those needs," Hudson told KSMU. "Then, we would walk alongside them and help achieve those goals.”

OTC says it expects to see a 20% participation rate in mental health professional development programs. And it expects the use of free counseling by students will increase, too. The ONE program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the program will roll out next fall.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.