June 23, 2023
Interim Vice Chancellor/Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Daniel Maxwell and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs - Health and Well-Being, Chris Dawe, attended the Texas Suicide Prevention Symposium, which took place from June 13 to June 15, 2023. With the theme "Coming Together to Care," the symposium aimed to unite experts, professionals, and advocates in the field of suicide prevention to address this critical issue.
The event was a valuable opportunity for Dr. Maxwell and Mr. Dawe to expand their professional networks and deepen their understanding of suicide prevention strategies nationally and across Texas. The symposium's comprehensive program spanned three days, with each day focusing on a specific aspect of the issue.
On June 13, the sessions focused on "Schools, Youth, and Higher Education." A number of presenters delved into the unique challenges faced by educational institutions in creating a supportive environment for their students and fostering mental well-being. A highlight was a presentation from Haley DeGreve, CEO and Founder of The Gray Matters Collective, talking about the student perspective and how higher education can support students’ mental health. Mr. Dawe stated, “I was honored to stand in on the Higher Education panel at the end of the day and share the work we are doing at the University of Houston along with the benefits of being connected to the Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative.”
June 14th featured sessions presented by national leaders, researchers, and Texas Health and Human Services. Sessions provided a broader perspective on suicide prevention, exploration of community-based approaches, public health initiatives, and the role of various stakeholders in the process. It also included updates on the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline from its first year of existence and an outlook on future developments and an expansion underway.
The final day, June 15th, concentrated on "Service Members, Veterans, and their Families." Sessions shed light on the specific mental health needs of military personnel, veterans, and their loved ones, offering insights into effective interventions and support systems.
The New Braunfels Civic and Convention Center, located approximately 25 miles north of San Antonio and 40 miles south of Austin, was the chosen venue for this crucial symposium. Its central location allowed for easy accessibility, attracting participants from across the state to engage in meaningful discussions and knowledge-sharing. Approximately 300 people attended in person and another 900 participated virtually.
“The symposium provided an opportunity to learn from best practices, innovative strategies, and evidence-based interventions. It was also a great time to expand our networking across the state and explore future collaborations,” stated Dr. Maxwell.
As the "Coming Together to Care" theme suggests, this symposium encouraged collective efforts, emphasizing that suicide prevention is a shared responsibility. Dr. Maxwell and Mr. Dawe share in the University of Houston's commitment to fostering a supportive and caring environment, where the well-being of every individual is a critical part of the overall Cougar Experience.