Editor’s note: In the second half of 2019, Lost&Found is expanding its effort to end suicide for young adults in the United States in four significant ways: Adding new campus chapters, refocusing its programming on resilience, expanding its mental health research efforts, and seeking new sources of financial support. This is the third in a four-part series looking at those efforts.

After a successful student survey initiative was launched at South Dakota State University this past year, Lost&Found will soon provide research support to campus counseling centers and administration at the other three campuses we serve: the University of South Dakota, Dakota Wesleyan, and the University of Sioux Falls.

Many college campuses, including those in South Dakota, have limited data to inform their decisions on how to provide mental health care. Data gathering efforts on suicide attempts, ideation and local prevention factors vary widely, based on campus’s staffing capacity and funding. Lost&Found’s expanded research efforts will help to fill that gap, so that campus counseling centers and administrators can more effectively target programs and services to the needs of their students.

The research will focus on five areas: 1) gathering information on existing mental health data, 2) identifying gaps, 3) completing needs assessments for each campus, 4) provide recommendations for strengthening existing services/programs or creating new, and 5) implementing strategies to maintain comprehensive student mental health data.

For new partnering institutions, the need is clear.Like many other colleges and universities across the nation, the University of Sioux Falls has seen a steady increase in the need for mental health support services for students throughout the last decade,” says University of Sioux Falls Counselor Michelle DeHoogh-Kliewer. With the case load in USF Counseling Services dramatically rising over the last several years, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Lost & Found to further understand the needs of our students and provide education, prevention, and support.” 

For South Dakota State, the work continues. After delivering the University of Minnesota’s College Student Health Survey to over 1,100 SDSU students last spring, South Dakota State administrators will soon have access to survey results by mid-September. This new mental health data can help administrators understand mental health needs of a larger set of SDSU students, while setting a foundation for future program changes and additional research efforts. The effort exceeded expectations in a major way, far outpacing the initial goal of reaching 400 SDSU students.

Lost&Found’s new research efforts at the University of South Dakota, University of Sioux Falls, and Dakota Wesleyan University will launch in Fall 2019. Data will be made public at an appropriate time in communication with each partnering institution. For now, data will remain in the hands of college administrators as they analyze how they can better serve their students, and partner with Lost&Found to do so.

We’re ready to launch, and so is our research. We’re hosting a Lost&Found Launch Event from 5 to 7 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019, at the Fernson Tap Room in Sioux Falls.

Come hear more about the way Lost&Found is ramping up its efforts this fall and the years to come!