Active Minds at PSU
Penn State University
The hope for this project is to create an online, all-inclusive, web page for behavioral health awareness, resources, and support specific to our campus and the surrounding community. Many students are affected by mental illness, yet are uneducated or unaware of the hope and help available. Educating the entire campus community can be a difficult task, but by using an easy access web page, users can find information on mental health and wellness. The website will include web links and phone numbers to community services, including (but not limited to): Counseling and Psychological Services on campus, local mental health providers, Alcoholic Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous groups, pastoral counseling, the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic, Rehab After Work/Rehab After School, crisis services, and campus outreach groups. Insurance is another difficult aspect of behavioral health to navigate. The P.S.UAreNotAlone website will simplify the complicated process for students obtaining or using their insurance. Students will be able to educate themselves through current facts, research, and information on mental illness provided through the website. A digital calendar will be used, posting campus and community events, meetings, and presentations related to behavioral health. Students will also have the opportunity to share their stories--anonymously, if preferred. Sharing stories will help build a sense of community, knowing they are not alone. An entertainment section will include videos, books, and phone apps for people to utilize. This one-stop website will serve as a platform to educate, help, and break the stigma of mental illness on campus.
Does your idea draw from evidence based models/best practices?:
The Social Media Group within the Convio Services Team created a guide in order to help nonprofit organizations utilize social media to expand their viewership and further their cause. We will use the tips from this guide to create an efficient and effective social media outlet for our project. http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/files/Convio_Social-Media-Guide.pdf
Awareness, Knowledge, & Attitudes:
The entire website is dedicated to raising awareness, sharing knowledge, and changing attitudes towards behavioral health for students. Raising awareness for behavioral health will be accomplished through the personal stories shared, a calendar of local events, debunking false beliefs, and incorporating national campagnes into our local movement. The website will share knowledge with students by connecting them to local behavioral health services, updated facts and research, information on insurance, and sharing links to videos, blogs, and books. The website in and of itself speaks to changing the perception and attitudes about behavioral health by initiating a conversation and transforming this taboo topic into a much needed dialogue. As students learn that mental health and illness is a real issue and is quite common amongst their peers on campus, attitudes and beliefs will change and the steps to ending stigma can take a public stance.
P.S.UAreNotAlone is created for students by students to foster a safe atmosphere where students can reach out, ask questions, and educate themselves without the fear of judgement or embarrassment that can accompany behavioral health issues. Peers have great influence on each other, and not only will this website allow students to educate themselves on behavioral health issues; it will equip them to transfer their knowledge into the lives of those around them. The information on the website will allow students to recognize concerning behavior from their peers, resources to where they can refer friends, and ways they can get involved locally to impact our campus. This community of like-minded peers promotes student advocacy and reminds students they are not alone.
Our website strongly supports a help-seeking culture by providing numerous behavioral health resources both locally and nationally. The list of campus and local providers and organizations is an easy way to promote the help that is readily available to students. The information on insurance will bridge the gap for students who are held back from getting help because of confusion surrounding the insurance process. The facts and information on behavioral health will help normalize the topic, aiding in breaking down the stigma so that students are not scared or embarrassed to seek help. Additionally, as the campus community becomes more informed on mental health and wellness, students will be better prepared to share applicable and helpful information with those around them. As more students are introduced to the website and utilize its resources, the help-seeking community can grow into a help-seeking culture that can positively change our university.
Using connections around campus, online media outlets, and our driven passion to change the voice about mental illness, P.S.UAreNotAlone can be feasibly implemented. Currently, Active Minds maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter account to promote our organization's events as well as community events and facts about mental health. The website will be similarly maintained and updated to increase promotion and advocacy for behavioral health with additional information, resources and outlets. We are familiar with organizing and upkeeping our current sites, and can use our experience to create a comprehensive resource and support outlet for students.
There would be little or no cost in order to implement and maintain this website. Our university provides web-space for its students and organizations. The members of Active Minds will be responsible for maintaining the website as volunteers, and therefore, no employees will need to be paid. Promotion through Counseling and Psychological Services, University Health Services, Disability Services, Freshman Orientation, Residence Life, Graduate Student Association, Multicultural Center, LGBT Center, Greek Life, Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs, Student Athlete Welfare Committee, and many other organizations around campus are free services that we will use to endorse the website and advocate for our cause.
Our Active Minds organization has grown in size and passion as we fight to end the stigma and change the conversation about mental illness. Dedicated members volunteer their time, money, and resources to reach out to our campus for the cause. The website will be easily accessible so all members can contribute to and edit it. This enables the website to be sustained regardless of member turnover, graduation, or changes in officers. Our members are very active in our group and will contribute to the current and future success of the website.
The idea behind P.S.UAreNotAlone can be replicated by many student organizations across the nation. Both students and campus organizations have a significant presence on social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, and organization websites. For this reason, we are using this social media to reach out to students. If the organization’s university does not provide free web-space to students and organizations, there are other ways to generate this website through online services that allow users to create and maintain a free website or blog. Additionally, student organizations can adopt our website layout and relevant information to start up their own. The organization will need to inform itself with behavioral health services on campus and in the community to create the most informative website possible. With the primary intention to inform students and change the conversation about behavioral health, educating ourselves as an organization is the first step to educating others.