PERCH is very different from traditional counseling and intervention programs. President Syzmanski’s vision for the UNF campus culture (happy/caring/kind/real/community) gave ‘permission’ for the program to be brought forward in 2019/2020. The merger and new leadership of Student Affairs/Academic Affairs has supported, encouraged and funded OspreyPERCH’s growth since its inception. The program provides screening, assessment, referral and short-term solution focused counseling and community-based referral to students in need of services. Members of the UNF student body are often referred by the Dean of Student’s office and/or the Student Conduct Officer. Students may also self-refer or may be referred by faculty or staff from all departments as well. The program is a two-year implementation science research project which will culminate with a complete program evaluation to determine efficacy at the end of year 2.
The current program is the seed from which a complete continuum of behavioral healthcare can emerge to unify isolated parts of what was UNF’s available student health, wellness and behavioral health services (Healthy Osprey/Rec Well, the Counseling Center and Student Health Services). The full OspreyPERCH program (full implementation planned in 2020/2021 pending funding approval) adds to prior existing student services as noted above, the components of secondary and tertiary prevention, early intervention, intensive bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment, comprehensive treatment/service planning, short-term solution focused counseling/coaching and holistic health interventions such as nutrition and dietetics education and exercise science/performance psychology. These services to UNF students are made possible through faculty supervised graduate student clinical learning internships and programs in the Brooks College of Health Department of Public Health, Department of Nutrition & Dietetics and the Department of Clinical & Applied Movement Sciences.
OspreyPERCH is based upon a philosophical premise that; we are a community and we must take responsibility for ourselves and our neighbors and; that all members of the community are valuable. It is what the term “community mental health” was meant to be when our country moved from an ‘institutionalized’ system of mental health treatment to a ‘community-based model of mental health care’ in the 1960’s. The ‘crisis’ of mental health in the US today is at least partially because our community mental health centers have been underfunded and understaffed and lost in bureaucracy for so long that most centers no longer possess the knowledge and determination to be the community mental health safety nets they were intended to be.
OspreyPERCH is a living laboratory established upon the foundations of a comprehensive behavioral health continuum model that when combined with existing services and supported financially will be enough to meet the needs of the UNF student community at a fraction the retail value of the student learning/internship services. The Brooks College of Health academic program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) focuses on the development of the professional identity of future CMHC counselors and other healthcare providers oriented toward taking personal responsibility for community wellbeing. One final aim of the academic program is teaching healthcare graduate and undergraduate students (where applicable) how to work together in a healthy community of interprofessional members where they experience mutual respect and are supported and supervised by clinical and research faculty members as they serve their clients… who happen to be UNF students desperately in need of help. From the student/client perspective, our counselors-in-training meet the students where they are by being physically located in the areas of campus where the live, work and play with offices around campus. OspreyPERCH provides expanded available service hours from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm Monday – Thursday and 7:00 am – 3:00 pm on Friday. Weekend hours are available for special circumstances and by appointment only.