Trellis Grant Enhances Mental Health Services For Students

Apr 3, 2024Neesha Hosein
Trellis grant

San Jacinto College is one of eight higher education institutions in Texas to be awarded the Mental Health and Wellbeing Grant from the Trellis Foundation, a public charitable organization focused on enhancing postsecondary attainment for Texas students.   

Before the grant  

San Jac looked at the pandemic’s impact on enrollment, instruction changes, and the daily lives of students and faculty. Although the College created San Jac Cares to reach out to students throughout the pandemic, many struggled to adapt to new realities at school, work, or home.  

“San Jac leadership recognized the need for more flexible options for student mental health care,” said Suzanne Sambell, grant writer, office of resource development. “Our student support services staff also wanted to be able to provide more specialized training to staff and faculty so they could more effectively recognize students in mental distress, provide meaningful advice and counseling, and create effective referral systems for those needing assistance beyond what the College can provide.”   

In spring 2021, the College restructured counseling offices, securing licensed mental health counselors at each campus and enhancing the system for tracking mental health care requests.   

“As the grant writer, I worked very closely with Tanesha Antoine [student support services dean and grant leader] to establish what she would like to accomplish for her office,” Sambell said. “We developed a list of improvements and needed resources for the student support services that she felt would most benefit San Jac students, faculty, and staff, and we named the project Assess and Improve Mental Health Services.”    

Survey helps identify student mental health needs   

In October 2022, the College received $195,775 from the Trellis Foundation to support mental health and neurodiversity programs over a two-year period. Trellis connected San Jac with the JED Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes emotional health and suicide prevention for young adults.  

The JED collaboration offered an opportunity to participate in the Healthy Minds Study, developed by University of Michigan. The survey explores mental health, service utilization, and related issues among college students. Antoine explained that students are often unaware of the extent of support services available to them, so the team is eager to hear what they have to say. 

About 500 students completed the survey as of Dec. 13. Antoine is confident the survey results will help the team develop a plan to meet students’ needs and better understand their perspectives on mental health services.  

“We have explored how to provide unique experiences for our students that we can tie to their mental health, such as goat yoga and engaging speakers that have shared experiences,” Antoine said. “We also understand that we need to build connections and engage with our online students.”   

Funding will also help increase staffing, expand available hours, support a marketing campaign and social media presence, and improve overall awareness and engagement efforts.   

The plan 

The grant money will help support the goals of AIMS: 

  • Assess through Healthy Minds Study survey 
  • Create an awareness campaign for the College’s mental health and basic needs resources and services 
  • Expand the number of mental health counselors and hours of counseling services 
  • Build culturally appropriate mental health resources so all student groups feel comfortable seeking help 
  • Create peer-led support groups to reduce stigma for those seeking mental health counseling  

Antoine feels the college community should engage in efforts to support students. Being aware, spreading the knowledge, and sharing ideas are ways others can support these efforts.    

Learn more about student mental health services at 

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