For Consumers
For Professionals
College Mental Health Program
Schools
Mental Health Sciences Library
Alumni

COLLEGE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM

FEATURED CAMPUS PROGRAMS

YOUR NAME: Brooke Katz

NAME OF PROGRAM/ORGANIZATION:
Simmons College

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:
Simmons College invited Lizzie Simon, a young woman with bipolar disorder and well-known author of “Detour,” to speak at an event that was an optional part of freshman orientation. Free copies of “Detour” were handed out to the first 100 people who came. Ms. Simon discussed her story and fighting stigma, and the talk was incredibly well-received by the students, many of whom asked questions. The climate of the room was that it is ok to have a mental illness or mental health issue.

WHO WAS THE TARGETED AUDIENCE?
Incoming freshman and those who are on track to become part of the 80 percent of college students who do not seek help when needed.

HOW DID YOU ADVERTISE/PROMOTE?  
The event was advertised in orientation materials and posters in dorms. In addition, orientation leaders encouraged students to attend the talk.

OTHER COMMENTS:
Although attendance was not mandatory, students were lined up outside an hour before the talk, and the audience of 200-300 filled a large auditorium with standing-room only. Simmons Counseling Center staff took advantage of the situation to talk about services on campus and in the community.  Counseling center staff later reported that services are being used more frequently and the talk had an impact on many freshmen. 


YOUR NAME: Susan Putnins

NAME OF PROGRAM/ORGANIZATION:
Tell Your Story Day
Harvard Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Group (MHAAG)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:
This day was designed to encourage people to “tell their story” about their experiences with mental illness. On the Harvard campus, it seemed like students were willing to talk with others about their problems – evidenced by the swarm of students volunteering for peer counselor programs and events targeted to things like suicide awareness – but there was still a great stigma about speaking up about one’s own experiences. MHAAG created a wikispace (http://wikispaces.tellyourstory.com) where people could anonymously post stories about their mental health issues before the event, and by the time the event took place, over 40 entries had been posted. Tell Your Story Day began with a rally outside of a campus building with signs with text from the wikispace site. There was drop-in peer counseling during the day, whereas usually peer counselors are only available from 7pm-7am. The event culminated with a “dessert and debriefing” where students could confidentially share their experiences of the day. Throughout the day, pins saying “Tell me your story… I’m listening” were distributed, and many students kept these pins on for several weeks after.

WHO WAS THE TARGETED AUDIENCE?
Students who may support mental health awareness in general, but might be uncomfortable disclosing their own experiences with mental illness.

HOW DID YOU ADVERTISE/PROMOTE?
We wrote op-eds for the campus newsletter, put posters around campus, and told campus administrators and clinicians about the event.

OTHER COMMENTS:
The most successful components were the wikispace and the pins. The debriefing had a small group of people, while the rally and drop-in counseling were very sparsely attended. In other words, the low-time commitment pieces of the event were hugely popular, which may be because of students’ busy lives. It may also be that the wikispace was popular because it was anonymous, and students are still not comfortable sharing their issues even in a confidential setting. The “Tell me your story… I’m listening” pin was changed to “Speak out … I’m listening” and “Speak out on mental health… I’m listening” for a later “Speak Out! on Mental Health” week.

 

 


YOUR NAME: Susan Putnins

NAME OF PROGRAM/ORGANIZATION:
Mental Health Mentor program
Harvard Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Group (MHAAG)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION: 
The Mental Health Mentor program pairs someone with questions about their mental illness and who may want support with someone who is willing to share their own experiences with mental illness. The program is student-run and anonymous, outside of the mentor pair. Clinicians provide training and support for Mentors.
Why have a Mental Health Mentor?
Many students at college may start psychotropic medication or be diagnosed with a disorder and not know any peers who can empathize with them and help them through this new situation. Mental Health Mentors provide confidential one-on-one ongoing peer support, a unique service on campus.

WHO WAS THE TARGETED AUDIENCE?
Students who want to talk to someone who has experience dealing with a mental illness, but are not comfortable approaching friends, or do not have friends who have experience with mental illness.

HOW DID YOU ADVERTISE/PROMOTE?
We sent emails to campus listserves, to campus organization leaders, and to campus administrators and clinicians so that they might make referrals.

OTHER COMMENTS:
We had an enormous amount of applications for people to be a Mental Health Mentor, but only a few people who sought a mentor. This indicated the possibilities that students are interested in talking about their mental health experiences but are more willing to give than receive help; insufficient advertising was done; the program was not seen as confidential enough.

 


 

red balloon

 

YOUR NAME: Susan Putnins

NAME OF PROGRAM/ORGANIZATION:
University Health Services awareness
Harvard Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Group (MHAAG)

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:
At some point, there was a limit of 12 psychotherapy sessions a year at the University Health Services (UHS) Mental Health Services (MHS). However, that policy had changed sometime before 2004, but the misinformation persisted. Some clinicians, deans, and professors all told students that there was a 12 session limit, and students informed each other. Students also often complained about MHS to each other, but UHS administrators were unaware of the problems that were commonly acknowledged among students because students did not generally report these. MHAAG tried to combat the session limit misinformation and limited communication by students to UHS by 1) posting this website: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~mhaag/insurance.php , including information on finding counselors off campus 2) postcards that people could send to friends giving the correct information about the session limit and patient advocate and feedback mechanisms, 3) a “UHS feedback” drive where we handed out feedback forms and publicized the patient advocate information.

WHO WAS THE TARGETED AUDIENCE?
Students, clinicians, administrators, and professors who were misinformed about the 12-session limit; students who were frustrated by UHS but had not given UHS feedback.

HOW DID YOU ADVERTISE/PROMOTE?
Campus list serves, emails to campus organization leaders and campus administrators, putting up flyers and distributing postcards at dorm study breaks.

OTHER COMMENTS:
The misinformation about the 12-session limit was extremely ingrained, and even these efforts did not completely combat this. UHS administrators were very encouraging to get students to provide feedback, since it was clear they wanted to improve services if students were dissatisfied.

About McLean Hospital

U.S. News & World Report named McLean America's #1 Hospital for Psychiatry in 2013 . McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric facility of Harvard Medical School, an affiliate of the Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of Partners HealthCare. For more information about McLean visit us on www.facebook.com/ McLeanHospital or follow the hospital on Twitter@McLeanHospital.

facebook twitter
10.2010