May 13, 2019

WCU Individuals Recognized for their Impact on Mental Health Awareness

Photograph by Tessa Marie Images, courtesy of Main Line Today.  (From left) Amanda Blue, Brian Corson, Leanne Valentine, Helene Moriarty and Melissa Hewitt.

Currently, student graduations may be grabbing headlines, but others in the campus community are making news, too. The May issue of Main Line Today (MLT) magazine spotlights “Health Care Heroes” and two of the heroes are from West Chester University: Amanda Blue and Leanne Valentine.

Blue, outreach manager for the College of Health Sciences, and Valentine, director of WCU’s Community Mental Health Clinic, were recognized for their outstanding mental health contributions on campus as well as in the community.

Blue commended Main Line Today for adding behavioral health to the list of specialties from which they choose individuals for the annual Health Care Heroes distinction. She has noticed — both on and off campus — a culture shift that has produced more interest in openly addressing mental health topics as well as more attention and conversation.

One example is steady demand for the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program that she brought to campus. MHFA is a public education program Created by the National Council for Behavioral Health that trains participants to recognize risk factors and warning signs associated with mental illnesses and prepares them to offer initial help in a mental health crisis. To date, more than 850 campus individuals have been trained in MHFA — 75 percent of those are students. Blue said, “One of the benefits of Mental Health First Aid is the increased literacy people gain from the training.”

In her role as outreach manager, she works with faculty and staff to develop such programs and events such as Take a Mental Health Day and walks for suicide prevention. Blue is also co-chair of the Chester County Suicide Prevention Taskforce and is able to link both positions to increase awareness and education surrounding mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental health crises both on campus and in the county.

Valentine is the first director of the University’s Community Mental Health Clinic, which opened in August 2017. The clinic addresses the need for low-cost mental health services among students and West Chester residents and serves as a training clinic for graduate students in the doctor of psychology program as well as a clinical research site for psychology faculty. Its clinicians have helped 239 clients since its opening, and the number grows each semester.

“A unique aspect of the clinic is that it is community facing and allows both students as well as members of the community to receive low-cost mental health services that they otherwise may not have access to due to cost or language barriers,” said Valentine. The clinic has a Spanish-speaking therapist and translators to help develop and maintain open communication between therapists and clients. In addition to mental health therapy, the clinic also offers low-cost assessments for conditions like learning disabilities and ADHD.

Students and staff from the clinic present at local schools to promote mental health as well as their services. A Continuing Education Committee that sponsors continuing education programming for mental health practitioners in the West Chester area. We also provide outreach and psychoeducational programming to local hospitals, agencies and schools.

Last May, Blue and Valentine were also awarded a proclamation from the Chester County Commissioners for their commitment to address mental health issues on campus as well as throughout Chester County.

Read about all of Main Line Today’s 2019 Health Care Heroes.

Reach the University’s Community Mental Health Clinic: 610-436-2510

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