Division of Mental Health and Substance Use

Under the direction of Dr. Deric Kenne, the Center for Public Policy and Health’s Division of Mental Health and Substance Use conducts timely and relevant research in the fields of mental health and substance abuse and communicates to stakeholders, policymakers and professionals who can utilize the findings to improve the health of the public.  This work includes programs and research to increase awareness about mental health and substance use, reduce stigma, increase service utilization, and track substance use trends. The Division of Mental Health and Substance Use also works to inform federal, state, and local policies. The Center and Division are both housed in the College of Public Health.


Current and Recent Projects


The Division of Mental Health and Substance Use is currently forming a Student Mental Health Coalition. The coalition is designed for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in promoting mental health across campus while reducing mental illness stigma. If you would like to volunteer and get involved in the coalition, please provide your information.


The purpose of Project AWARE Kent is to increase mental health literacy within the university community. A recent needs assessment conducted among students at Kent State University found that 30.9% of students indicated the need for mental health services; however, less than half of those students sought help. Several activities will lead to accomplishing the purpose of Project AWARE Kent including offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses, social marketing and awareness campaigns, and interagency and community partnerships through the development of an Interagency Advisory and Leadership Team (IALT).

Talk On: Stopping mental illness stigma

Talk On is a new initiative to stop mental illness stigma by having KSU students, faculty, and staff share their personal experiences with mental illness.

Hear to Help

Hear to Help allows students on campus to identify those who have been trained in MHFA.

Proving Ohio’s Prevention Success: KSU Alcohol & Drug Survey

An annual survey of alcohol and other drug use among Kent State University students used to inform drug policy and prevention efforts within the university and surrounding communities.

Opioid Use & Pregnancy: A Community-Based Participatory Research Multi-Site Exploratory Study

A community-based participatory research study to investigate the use of opioid drugs during pregnancy.  The study is a collaboration between the Kent State University College of Public Health and the Ohio Alliance of Recovery Providers and the Ohio Women’s Network.  The study expands on previous research to include two rural and two urban sites in Ohio.  Findings will help better understand a relatively understudied and high-risk population and guide treatment planning and programming.