The BridgeWay, a mental health and substance abuse facility in North Little Rock, is partnering with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to provide students in the Department of Applied Communication with a unique opportunity to receive a scholarship and gain professional experience at the same time.
The BridgeWay will donate $2,500 a year to UA Little Rock to sponsor a scholarship and internship program forapplied communication students in the College of Social Sciences and Communication. Beginning in January 2019, one student will be selected per year to receive a $2,500 scholarship and an internship at The Bridgeway.
Bruce Trimble, director of business development for The BridgeWay and a passionate advocate for mental health in Arkansas, graduated from UA Little Rock in 2006 with a Master of Arts in applied communication.
“When I graduated, I wanted to do anything to help with the applied communication program because I got so much out of it,” Trimble said. “This is another way to honor the program and give students an opportunity for a great scholarship and internship experience.”
The students selected for the scholarship will assist Trimble in developing communication strategies and messages targeted at combatting the stigma surrounding mental health and expanding The BridgeWay’s services.
“One of the things I’ve learned over the years is the stigma that surrounds mental health can largely be combatted by communication,” Trimble said. “The interns will be assisting with messaging around mental health and helping me identify targets and barriers to expand our services within the state of Arkansas. This internship is a way to give back and expose this area of communication to young leaders.”
The BridgeWay provides inpatient mental health services, outpatient care, and counseling to Arkansans. Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, the hospital is the largest freestanding psychiatric facility in the state and serves nearly 5,000 people a year.
In 2014, Trimble experienced a paradigm shift when he realized that Arkansas was a leading state for suicide. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Trimble to the Arkansas Suicide Prevention Council. This involved building connections to hospitals and treatment centers, challenging the stigma associated with mental health, and educating the populace about resources in the state, particularly for people who are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. Trimble has also been instrumental in establishing a call center in Arkansas for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, which opened in December 2017.
“Statistically, Arkansas is eleventh in the nation for suicides, and that is definitely something we could reduce if more people got help,” Trimble said. “Every day is a wakeup call. Each number is a person, and we need to reverse that trend.”
Trimble received the 2018 Alumni Making a Difference Award, which recognizes UA Little Rock alumni for being instrumental in their community to foster the co-creation of better social worlds through positive communication. Receiving the award was a highlight for Trimble, who was happy to share the experience with his proud father, 90-year-old Robert Trimble. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Department of Applied Communication which helps connect community businesses, nonprofits, and alumni with the university. Trimble is one of the featured speakers in the2018-19 Leadership Lecture Series. On Nov. 1, he will deliver his lecture, “Language Matters: Our Role in Destigmatizing Mental Health Issues.”
In the upper right photo, Bruce Trimble (left) celebrates with his father, Robert Trimble, after receiving the UA Little Rock 2018 Alumni Making a Difference Award.