Dec 8, 2020
Oklahoma Panhandle State University secured a multi-year grant with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to assist OPSU with stimulant and opioid awareness and prevention measures. Through this grant, OPSU students, faculty, staff, and our community will have access to a Certified Prevention Specialist, counseling services, consultations, and resources that help combat the abuse and addiction of stimulants and opioids.
Panhandle State has staffed one full-time Higher Education Prevention Services (HEPS) Grant Coordinator and one student-worker to assist with facilitating this program. Virginia Cruz, an OPSU Alumna, brings nearly four years of prevention and education experience in the region. Cruz holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is a certified Behavioral Health Rehabilitation Specialist.
University President, Dr. Julie Dinger stated, “This grant will allow an opportunity for our campus and community to get and stay educated on mental health and substance abuse and the importance of bringing awareness to our students and employees. I believe Virginia is the best person to help us fulfill our requirements in this grant to meet the needs of our students, employees, and community.”
Cruz will host multiple training seminars each semester to help educate members of our OPSU community on the dangers of using stimulants and opioids. These seminars will also include the offer of services to assist anyone who may be experiencing signs of addiction and abuse. Additional educational opportunities will be offered to students, faculty, and staff to help identify and report signs of stimulant and opioid addiction and abuse.
Valentina Allen, Dean of Student Affairs stated, “I am beyond grateful to be able to offer these resources to our community. Rural communities were heavily impacted in recent years by stimulant and opioid abuse, and it’s programs like these that address the underlying root cause of abuse and addiction. This program will engage mental health professionals at every stage of the process. This epidemic has rocked our country and we can’t forget about rural communities like Goodwell.”
Virginia Cruz, Project Coordinator stated, “I am honored to be a part of providing higher education prevention services to OPSU and the surrounding community. This program will bring awareness to the importance of putting preventative measures in place and providing mental health interventions to help individuals enjoy life without the weight of addiction.”
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