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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI and Kent County Mental Health
Center form partnership

KINGSTON, R.I. -- December 9, 1999 -- The University of Rhode Island and the Kent County Mental Health Center have formed a partnership. It's a win, win, win collaboration. URI students get rich "real life" experiences, the mental health center benefits from URI faculty and staff expertise, and the larger community becomes the beneficiary of a more enlightened mental health care provider.

In one developing project, URI faculty and staff will teach non-violence skills to the mental health center's professional staff. In turn, the staff members will use the knowledge for both treatment and prevention. The result, hopefully, will be more peaceful communities.

URI psychology graduate student Maram Hallak will measure the effectiveness of the training while fellow students Elena Mirsky and Dana Scott Mills will work on creating a bridge between psychology and non-violence education.

"The partnership is a wonderful opportunity for the University and for our students," comments Dr. Charles Collyer of Providence, chair of URI's Department of Psychology, noting that the mental health center is the first of hopefully many agencies in the state that will benefit from URI's expertise in non-violence.

URI established a Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies in 1998. It has foundations both in the great nonviolent approaches to social change, such as those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi, and in modern social science research. URI's new Center aims to promote the philosophy of nonviolence and contribute to its further development through validated methods of training, research, and intervention. Collyer says he truly appreciates the enthusiasm Kent County Mental Health Center has for the partnership.

"We're very excited," says David Lauterbach, president of the Kent County Mental Health Center. The center, which employs 200 mental health professionals, has a state contract to provide services to people who have severe and persistent mental illness who live in the towns of Warwick, West Warwick, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, and Coventry. In addition, the center provides services for a variety of persons, ranging in age from pre-school to the elderly.

Lauterbach says that the mental health center is very interested in non-violence and conflict resolution. "Many people are adversely affected by trauma brought about by violent interaction with others. This interpersonal violence can be verbal as well as physical and sexual. Dr. King's approach to non-violence embodies sound conflict resolution skills with a strong sense of spirituality and community. I believe we can enhance our positive impact on the communities we serve by partnering with URI to teach non-violence as a way of preventing the adverse affects of trauma brought about by interpersonal violence."

The partnership agreement is expected to enhance both agencies by providing opportunities for joint research and educational projects.

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For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116



 

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