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Counseling students expand program to advocate for mental health on campus

Collage of the Mental Health Advocates program team membersA group of seven University of North Florida Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) graduate students are working on a project to help improve student success and wellbeing through mental health advocacy. Originally aimed at helping students struggling in courses with high grades of D, F, and Withdrawal (DFW) rates, the initially successful “Mental Health Advocates” program looks to expand to serve other student groups on campus and in the local community. 

The students led by Dr. Kassie Terrell, CMHC assistant professor, started the Mental Health Advocates program in 2019 funded through a UNF Foundation Grant. The students hosted 19 workshops serving over 600 fellow UNF students and an Instagram page to share helpful advice and tips on stress management, positive coping strategies, personal wellbeing, practicing mindfulness, setting SMART objectives to improve overall wellness, and destigmatizing mental health programs services.

The students are currently reviewing data collected from pre-test and post-test surveys that is showing very positive preliminary results. The students will utilize this data to determine how to best improve the programming and continue to provide this important mental health advocacy work to fellow Osprey students.

Future goals of the program include providing the mental wellness workshops for UNF freshman and transfer student orientations as well as registered student organizations/clubs and continuing to share resources for students through social media. Terrell also hopes to expand the outreach into high schools in the Jacksonville community in the future.

Terrell and her students are currently working on a manuscript about the project, have presented their preliminary results at the Chi Sigma Iota International Honors Society Annual Conference and will present at the upcoming Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Annual Conference.