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Office of the Dean of Students receives grant to support substance misuse prevention services

The Office of the Dean of Students has received another year of grant funding through the Idaho Office of Drug Policy to provide substance misuse prevention service to residential students in the 2023-24 academic year. Assistant Dean in the Office of the Dean of Students, Kate Law, has been awarded $35,000 to continue programming efforts.

The grant will go to acquiring the web-based tool ScreenU. This tool provides students with confidential screening and personalized feedback about their consumption of alcohol, cannabis and/or prescription drugs. This platform utilizes the evidence-based practice of motivational interviewing to encourage and empower changes in behavior. A few of the many benefits of ScreenU include that it is customizable to Boise State’s campus (which will allow referral to campus resources) and that it evokes internal motivation to create change in risky substance use behavior. This tool will provide the Office of the Dean of Students and partners with useful data to inform future prevention efforts contextualized to the Boise State student population.

This acquisition is the result of the cultivation of a relationship with the Idaho Office of Drug Policy in an effort to enhance substance misuse prevention efforts at the university. Last year, the Office of the Dean of Students received a $40,000 grant for these services which staff used to attended national conferences to enhance relevant skills and build capacity at no cost to the university. Additionally, Law and Elizabeth Branham, health educator with BroncoFit, serve on the leadership committee for the Idaho College Health Coalition, comprised of higher education leaders across the State of Idaho. Law used grant funds to connect and train staff at the coalitions, which represents institutions including: Idaho State University, University of Idaho, College of Western Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College and North Idaho College. The training provided educators across the state with evidence-based skills to promote healthy behavior change with the student populations they serve.

Boise State aims to improve college student mental health by generating informed prevention strategies and integrating student mental health into all facets of university life. Boise State recently entered a four-year partnership with the JED Foundation as a part of the nonprofit’s JED Campus program, and efforts to address substance misuse are one of many ways the Office of the Dean of Students is leading in this domain.

A Substance Misuse and Transition workgroup, formed out of the larger JED taskforce, has begun to meet with the goal of identifying initiatives to pilot which will positively impact students’ ability to thrive on campus. Assistant Dean of Students for Outreach and Prevention, Michelle Tassinari, along with co-chair Law will be leading the group’s efforts.

The group is assessing and developing solutions for:

  • Screening opportunities and prevention programming
  • Development of life skills and social connectedness
  • Mental health training and help seeking behavior
  • Substance misuse support and support during transition
  • Leave policies, health insurance and promotion of means safety