This week The Seton Fund received a generous gift from donors Leigh and Clifford Chiu to support mental healthcare initiatives for college students in Central Texas. The donation established the Chiu Endowment for Excellence in Mental Health, and the investment will support the outpatient therapy program founded by Ascension Seton and the University of Texas at Austin.

“We are grateful for Leigh and Clifford’s gift to support this unique and life-saving program,” said Miguel Romano, President of Seton Foundations. “These are students with mental health conditions and require immediate attention and care, and through this generous donation we may continue to provide students therapy regardless of their ability to pay.”

In 2012, Ascension Seton and the University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center formed a collaboration to provide intensive outpatient therapy on campus for students in mental crisis, including students who are having suicidal, homicidal, impulsive or self-harming behaviors. The program consists of twenty intensive therapy sessions, assessment by a licensed behavioral professional at no cost to the student, and group therapy. The program is hosted at the University, and the cost of treatment is either covered by the student’s insurance or if the student is uninsured, the cost is covered by Ascension Seton’s charity care program.

“There is a mental health crisis in America, including our grade schools and universities. Under-researched for root cause, costly & scarce for treatment, and unaware or stigmatized for being depressed and anxious, mental health is personally meaningful to my immediate family,” Clifford Chiu said. “My endowed gift is purposed to deliver therapeutic services directly to students who cannot afford it on their own, and hopefully will inspire others to relate with their own direct or indirect experiences.”

The number of students needing mental health services will only continue to rise, as reports show that one in five adults in America experience a mental illness. The program is staffed by Ascension Seton resource navigators, who are behavioral health clinicians trained to help students connect with the resources they need. The goal of the therapy is to help increase awareness of mood-dependent behaviors, emotional triggers and impulsive behaviors; improve emotion-regulation skills; strengthen interpersonal and communication skills; and learn skills for intense and painful emotions.

Chiu is newly appointed to The Seton Fund Board of Directors and previously served on the Ascension Texas Finance Committee. He is a corporate director and private investment firm senior advisor, including Vista Equity Partners, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, as well as a board or committee appointee to government bodies and non-governmental organizations in the financial services, enterprise software, data and technology-enabled solutions, healthcare, education, social welfare and the arts sectors located in the United States and Hong Kong.

From left to right in photo: Alison Green, Seton Staff at UT Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center; Sam Cunningham, Manager at Ascension Seton Behavioral Health Care; Brandy Hart, Seton Shoal Creek Hospital Administrator; Leigh, Clifford and Harrison Chiu; Chris Brownson, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Director of the UT Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center; Melissa Eshelman, Associate Director for psychiatric services at the UT Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center; Katy Redd, Associate Director for Prevention, Development and Media Relations UT Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center