The overarching goal of #30daystoolate is to encourage our University to prioritize the mental health of its students, faculty, employees and administrators. Our short term goal is to increase student knowledge of mental health resources offered on campus, online, or in the community with the hopes that it will encourage them to seek help.
Our target population are freshmen and sophomores that live in dorms, those least likely to seek help at the Counseling Center, however we hope to reach students of all years who live on or off campus, faculty, staff or simply anybody walking about. Our project encourages terps who are struggling to find help, de-stigmatizes mental health issues and creates a sense of belonging.
According to the annual report of the Counseling Center, 2015-2016, 12% of first year students seek counseling services. The percentage doesn’t climb any higher than 28%, for seniors. The disconnect between established resources and student help seeking behavior is striking. We theorize that promoting established wellness resources will reduce this gap, increase the percentage of terps that seek help, and encourage the UMD community, students, faculty, employees, administrators and visitors, to prioritize their mental health. To achieve our goal we followed and will continue to follow the steps outlined below.
First, compile a list of established resources offered by the University of Maryland and national sources, online or in the community.
Next, we gathered the SPARC community to paint resources on large campaign signs, resource number on the front, positive encouraging message on the back. After holding SPARC events to paint the signs, we distributed them in high traffic walking areas across campus.
Third, we handed out business cards that outline these same resources with the messaging “we hope that if you or someone you know is struggling, this card may lead you to someone who can help.”
The official campaign was kicked off by SPARC sending President Loh a letter outlining SPARC’s concerns and demand for mental health policy reform. One month after delivering the letter with no response, SPARC compiled 30 student letters to President Loh, and delivered them to his Board of Directors to represent the 30 day wait period some students have to endure.
Our voices were heard, and SPARC was invited to meet with the administration.
We created a liaison between SPARC and the Counseling and Health Centers on campus. This partnership allows for SPARC’s input on new policies, events, and programs being implemented that affects students.
Next, we applied for the Do Good Challenge, sponsored by the School of Public Policy, and came in second place with fan favorite. We were awarded a total of $5,000. With this grant, we trained Leslie Krafft, the north campus case manager in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training. With her help, we trained 50 RAs on campus in MHFA, on an opt in only basis. We hope MHFA training will be required for all RA’s in the coming school year, and to open up the training for all students with the help the Leslie and the support of the SGA.