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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
Consultant

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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Vice President of Learning & Community Impact

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Director of Learning & Community Impact

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Joe Pyle, MA
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Tyrone Quarterman, BA, MPH Candidate
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Vivian Figueredo, MPA
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Georgia Kioukis, PhD
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Innovative DMAX Clubs in Greater Philadelphia and Penn State University

DMAX Foundation

Innovative DMAX Clubs in Greater Philadelphia and Penn State University Logo

Program Website
Year:
2018
State:
Pennsylvania
Winner Status:
Applicant
Program Type:
Program
Target Population:
Transition-Aged Youth
Setting:
School/College

Program Description

DMAX Foundation is a developing non-profit organization in Philadelphia, PA, and its mission is to eliminate stigma and encourage safe and caring conversations about mental and emotional issues in our youth, particularly in colleges. DMAX is addressing a significant unmet need on college campuses where those suffering from mental health issues often can’t or don’t seek counseling services because of stigma overcrowding and lack of resources, often leading to tragic results. Research shows that 34.2%-50% of college students with a mental health condition don’t talk about it or use college mental health services. DMAX has developed an innovative solution and rigorous, replicable model for student-led, advisor-supported, mental health related social “DMAX Clubs” that encourage students to talk about how they’re doing, how their friends are doing and how they can help each other. DMAX Clubs are for all students who are concerned with mental issues and college related stress for themselves or others. DMAX Clubs foster Conversations That Matter, fun, food and activities related to mental health providing alternative paths for students to get the help they need. After its successful pilot at Elon University, DMAX is rapidly expand this innovative program to four-six Pennsylvania universities by December 2018.

Creativity

DMAX Foundation is creative and resourceful in tackling a serious unmet need related to mental health on college campuses via its DMAX Clubs – a breakthrough concept that isn’t being done elsewhere. DMAX has developed a new innovative model, programming and an approach for clubs that: • Establishes a comfortable, trusting environment for students to share their emotional struggles and help each other, thus breaking the silence that can lead to tragic results • Includes guidelines for referrals to professional help when needed • Is inclusive for all students, not only those suffering from mental illness • Is based on conversations, fun, food and activities to attract and help more students. • Uses two comprehensive proprietary manuals developed by DMAX to enable students to start and operate a DMAX Club DMAX has earned the support of students, university administrators, counseling centers and positive feedback on its innovative approach.

Leadership

DMAX identified a problem and developed a solution to mental health challenges on college campuses. DMAX Clubs are an innovative model, readily emulated at colleges nationwide to help curtail tragic consequences resulting when students don’t get the help they need. A grassroots organization with limited resources, DMAX has accomplished significant milestones and tasks quickly: •Created/implemented its novel approach and innovative model for a difficult problem •Developed proprietary student leader manuals and white papers •Recruited and mentored student leaders and members •Gained university administration/ counseling center support •Established/implemented the first two DMAX Clubs •Resolved startup problems •Developed a plan for growth •Raised necessary financial resources through grassroots fundraising DMAX has raised significant awareness on college campuses through communication about our mission/goals through creative information dissemination: •Annual educational/social events •Press releases, news articles, social media •Presentations at corporate mental wellness symposiums, networking events and colleges •Student ambassadors •Corporate and university partnerships

Sustainability

DMAX has created a sustainable model to ensure continuation and growth of DMAX Clubs on university campuses through: •The replicable DMAX Club model and manuals •Established credibility among students and counseling centers •Student led recruitment efforts and counseling center support DMAX support and resources are provided to start up and establish a DMAX Club’s initial operations. Over time, DMAX resources will decline as student leaders run and sustain the club with university and counseling center support and training. After year one, a club will use student led fundraising activities and university financial assistance to run themselves. The Foundation will provide advice and guidance with little need for financial backing. DMAX Foundation is requesting funding for the upfront costs to establish/support new clubs on additional campuses. Our model enables DMAX Foundation to use those funds to create self-sustaining DMAX Clubs, and limit the need for an ever increasing pool of resources.

Replicability

The DMAX Club model for college campuses is easily replicable and transferrable across the nation and is set forth in DMAX manuals and White Papers: •How to Start and Operate a DMAX Club •Tips Topics and Tactics •“Best Practices and What is a DMAX Club” •“Mental Health on College Campuses – Why DMAX Clubs Matter” Counseling Center involvement guidelines are defined in the Counseling Center Training Agreement. Students and counseling center staff use the material provided by the Foundation to establish, run and build their DMAX Club. DMAX Foundation staff are available to respond to questions and needs, to educate student leaders, and to discuss responsibilities with counseling center staff. To ease implementation, the DMAX Foundation student internship program directs interns to create a DMAX Club on their campus and be an ambassador for outreach and awareness building about DMAX Clubs on other campuses.

Results/Outcomes

DMAX’s first successful pilot (Elon University) resulted in significant enrollment and weekly meetings since inception in spring 2016. The Counseling Center liaison reported the Club: •Provides a structured environment fostering acceptance, validation, safety, community, and a place to talk candidly •Exceeded counseling center expectations for membership •Is here to stay and grow •Attracts students committed to its mission/growth •Reduces stigma Over 70% of Elon’s DMAX Club members said the Club: •Is very important to their self-esteem, •Enables them to talk about things previously kept inside •Helps them realize they’re are not alone in feelings of emotional distress •Provides them increased comfort about being at school •Increases knowledge about helping others in a mental health crisis The DMAX Foundation has since established two additional clubs, with a third expected imminently. It is strengthening the model and expects to rapidly expand on this success to establish four-six clubs in Pennsylvania through 2018.