The YouOk? campaign would not have been possible without the generous support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Garret Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant program. In 2015, St. John’s University received a three-year SAMHSA GLS grant to implement a public-health approach to addressing mental health issues and preventing suicide on campus. The goals of this grant were to increase awareness of suicide, increase awareness of its signs and symptoms, and promote help seeking behaviors by 1) Establishing a critical mass of trained “gatekeepers; 2) Expanding access to mental health treatment and resources, and 3) Creating a multi-media educational campaign. The multi-media campaign developed for this grant became the SJUOK? campaign. Due to the success of the program, St. John’s decided to develop a similar campaign that other colleges and universities could use on their respective campuses, and began the development of the YouOK? Campaign.
The YouOK campaign (originally branded as SJUOK), has three primary goals: (1) Reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues by normalizing emotions; (2) Educate students about the warning signs of suicide; and (3) Encourage helping and help seeking behaviors. The campaign included informational signage around campus, promotional giveaway items to increase awareness, and educational events for students and faculty. Focus group data showed that the campaign was a tremendous success in raising awareness and removing the social stigma connected to mental illness.
The Ok campaign would not have been possible without the generous grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.