Puerto Rico since 2017 with Hurricane Irma, María, earthquakes and the COVID 19 pandemic has faced great changes which have impacted the lives of our population, including university students. The effects of these natural disasters and illnesses have been observed in the significant increase in cases of suicide, mental health disorders, increased consumption of alcohol and drugs, among others. The COVID 19 pandemic brought with it abrupt and unavoidable changes, forcing changes in the education system in a short time without being prepared for them. Changes that negatively and positively affected the entire student community and its employees.
Changes that could increase the alteration of emotions and feelings of university students. Due to the aforementioned, the Social Work Program of the Interamerican University, Aguadilla Campus had to innovate and diversify the services it offered for its student interns. Given the scarcity of the Practice Center and in turn with the purpose of meeting the needs of the student community, the Center for Help and Social Welfare (CABS) was born.
This center offered comprehensive services that benefit our student population and the local community through individual, family, group, organizational and community social work. The Center has been successful in establishing links in the community based on existing associations.
The IAUPR-Aguadilla Suicide Prevention Program, INTERContigo is thus a natural extension of the services already offered by CABS. We understand that, with the merger of this, using evidence-based practices would help address the issues of suicide, health and substance use disorders. This would contribute to the well-being of students, the success of the program and increase support for existing mental health services on campus.
The Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Campus seeks to improve the current infrastructure in mental health and suicide prevention, with the purpose of responding effectively to suicidal behavior and substance use. The Project seeks to increase the capacity to identify, prevent, and offer intervention for all college students, including those at risk of developing suicidal behavior, serious mental illness, and/or prevention-related overuse or injury.
Dr. Irma Sandoval Arocho, together with her team from the Social Work Program, created the INTERContigo proposal. Favorably obtaining the grant from SAMHSA and the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Campus.