Lauren Magee / THE REVIEW
Sean’s House, a safe haven for people with mental illness and substance abuse, has officially opened. This home will create an additional mental health resource for teenagers and young adults in Newark.
Chris Locke, founder of SL24: Unlocke the Light, which educates students about the signs of mental illness and supports athletes who may be suffering from mental illness, brought Sean’s House to life. He began attending high schools and colleges to speak to students about depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention after his son Sean Locke lost his battle with depression.
Unbeknownst to Locke, Locke said Sean had suffered from depression for about three years.
“He was a student athlete, played on the men’s basketball team and was the team captain in his senior year and a great kid. Many friends, very popular, had great careers after graduating [the University of] Delaware and worked for a real estate development company in Wilmington, ”said Locke. “But on July 18, 2018, I received a call and learned that he had committed suicide.”
After a presentation in high school, a student’s mother turned to Locke to explain that her son had committed suicide and she didn’t know where to take him. He said she explained the challenges by getting her son to hang out with someone.
“After that phone call, my wife and I looked at each other and we knew what the foundation’s mission was. and we’ve started thinking about a safe haven for young adults ages 18 to 24 to just talk to, ”Locke said.
They decided to buy the house Sean had lived in his second, second, and final years, located at 136 W. Main Street.
“The house’s mission is to help young adults deal with everything they have to do, and it’s an open house in the sense that every student can come in for a cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie and easy Can hang out around the house and read a book if they want, ”said Locke.
Sean’s House also provides professional mental health support. Locke says his organization is working with Nursing College and the Psychology Department to deliver what he calls “Peer 24 Support”.
17 students have completed a training program with the Mental Health Association in Delaware and are certified peer supporters. PhD students can assess anyone who is in crisis and find the best path for that person.
Bridget Hallett, a member of Sean’s House’s peer support team and president of Friends 4 Friends, said Sean’s House is especially important to the university community as the university cannot always cater to everyone.
“[Sean’s House] It should involve UD students who may not have the time or availability to go to the counseling center as the counseling center is very busy, ”Hallett said. “So this will be an alternative for them to seek help.”
Hallett said the lack of resources is not specific to the University of Delaware and that statewide universities do not have sufficient mental health resources.
She said the counseling center is trying to upgrade, get bigger buildings, and find more psychologists and therapists, but they still have to turn away some students.
Brad Wolgast, director of the Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD), said he looks forward to seeing how CCSD can work with Sean’s House and support the community in complementary ways.
“What CCSD can offer is professional advice from licensed professionals and those about to be licensed, which is essential for any college counseling, college or university,” said Wolgast.
“But what we can’t offer is peer-to-peer connectivity and, you know, in the world of COVID right now, or even on a college campus in general, when the world isn’t in COVID, peer connectivity really important, ”said Wolgast. “And no matter where you go to college or which university you go to, the first people you reach out to when you have a problem or concern, or something new or ongoing, are usually either friends or family members, that is, people who are you are close. “
He said the CCSD hopes that Sean’s house will create another level of “connectedness” for students who are struggling, and that the CCSD and Sean’s house will be able to refer students to each other.
“When the peer specialist at a Sean’s House realizes that this is something that needs to go up the chain to someone more experienced, they will reach out to us and vice versa,” said Wolgast.
While the CCSD has set up remote resources for university students, Wolgast went further into the CCSD’s weakness due to the nature of the ongoing pandemic.
“When we realize that this is a student who needs more support from someone who is a peer, you know, someone who is also a college student, then we can send them over there.”
Also, when a college student or alumni dies, Wolgast says they are empowered to see community support to make changes and do something to improve the lives of college students.
Sean’s House, which officially opened on September 24th, is open 24/7 and completely free for all services. Locke said Sean’s house was the gift his son left for the university community.
“Sean was such a warm and loving person, and when he lived there he greeted everyone in the house and was known in both the UD community and Newark [community] and condition [community]”Said Locke.
According to Locke, Sean was known to many people. When he died, nearly 4,000 people came to see him and his funeral.
“You walk through that front door, he lived there, he always got up, he was 6’4”, blond hair, blue eyes and [would] Just hug yourself and say, “Come on in, we’re happy to have you.” That’s the approach we want, ”said Locke. “This house is for the UD students, the students; We want you to feel welcome and know that this is a safe haven for you to have any assistance you need and that is Sean’s gift to UD. “