News Release — Clara Martin Center
Feb. 16, 2016
SOUTH ROYALTON—In 2014, after Vermont Law School experienced suicides of a beloved professor and two former students, the school took a proactive approach to recover from these tragedies by embarking on a multifaceted endeavor with their local mental health agency, the Clara Martin Center, to focus on the broader health and wellbeing of the community.
Shirley Jefferson ’86, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity, saw an increased need for support in response to these tragedies. Combined with a desire to actively engage the campus community in broad health and wellness, she spearheaded efforts to bring mental health services on campus that could be accessed by all members of the law school community, both students and employees.
Dean Jefferson reached out to the Clara Martin Center to begin this work in earnest. Linda Chambers, Executive Director of the Clara Martin Center, responded immediately and that same week, was able to have staff on site to begin providing services on campus.
“Shirley Jefferson is a respected leader who is willing to face the recovery of the community, without letting stigma stand in the way.” Chambers said.
Today, Clara Martin Center continues to provide VLS with on-site, weekly clinical access and participates in events such as new student and student ambassador orientations, as well as focused presentations. Through all the different activities that the law school organizes on campus, people are able to participate and receive awareness of area resources, as well as a better understanding of how to respond in a time of crisis and get help for those in need. These events are well attended by a vast cross section of students and employees, working to further embed mental health awareness across all aspects of the campus community.
By embedding these services into the campus culture, clinicians can identify signs and symptoms of mental health issues, build response capabilities, reduce isolation, share supports that are available and how to access those supports. This multifaceted approach to resiliency and recovery helps build cultural acceptance and combats the stigma around mental health issues and improve access to those in need.
Easy access to these essential services in a campus environment contributes to the success of a person receiving the support they need. When someone is in need of more extensive services, clinicians who already have established a connection with the individual can assist them in accessing the broader array of programs that Clara Martin Center offers. The Clara Martin Center system offers a continuum of services, including services for children and families, adult consumers, those with substance-use concerns, and emergency care.
Clara Martin Center believes that working with community partners, such as Vermont Law School, establishes preventative supports and promotes optimal mental health and recovery for the whole community. By fostering this partnership, both organizations provide greater access to mental health services, while working to end the stigma associated with mental health issues.