Professor Part of CSU Team Honored for Mental Health Training
Cal State San Marcos professor Darci Strother is part of a California State University team that has won a prestigious national award for training faculty to help students with their mental health.
The CSU received the Momentum Award at the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Summit in Los Angeles on Sunday. The event, put on by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, recognizes organizations and individuals for their outstanding contributions to advancing MHFA’s reach across the country.
The Momentum Award, handed out for the first time this year, was instituted to celebrate an organization that has built considerable enthusiasm for MHFA in their community.
MHFA is training that teaches individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders.
Strother is a Spanish professor who has taught in CSUSM’s Modern Language Studies department since 1993. In 2019, she was introduced to MHFA by Bonnie Gasior, a fellow Spanish professor from Cal State Long Beach, and the two faculty found it so empowering that they became certified to facilitate the training.
The next year, Strother and Gasior were named faculty fellows for Student Mental Health and Wellbeing through the CSU’s Innovative Teaching and Future Faculty Development program. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that spring, they developed two webinars to prepare faculty and student support professionals to become virtual mental health allies.
Since then, they have trained more than 600 CSU faculty in MHFA across all 23 campuses.
Strother and Gasior shared the Momentum Award with Emily Daniell Magruder, the CSU’s director of Innovative Teaching and Future Faculty Development, who accepted the award at the L.A. Convention Center; and Sailesh Maharjan, also a faculty fellow and a psychology lecturer at Cal State San Bernardino.
“I’m honored to be part of the team that received this amazing recognition,” Strother said. “It is really a testament to the caring and committed faculty across the CSU who understand that knowing how to address our students’ mental health needs better can go a long way in supporting our students’ success.”
Strother designed and taught a course called “Literatura y salud mental” (Literature and Mental Health) and directed a CSUSM Faculty Learning Community on the topic of MHFA. She has provided faculty workshops both in the United States and in Latin America on the topic of mental health in higher education.
Brian Hiro, Communications Specialist
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