Challenge Award 2016: UTMRC Mental Health and Wellbeing Program
The University of Texas at Austin Medical Reserve Corps (UTMRC) Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHW) program aimed to strengthen the mental health of students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the UT campus and promote community resilience by doing the following: 1) training members of the UT community in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and 2) offering weekly 1-hour meditation and yoga sessions at the School of Nursing (SON) for UT faculty staff and students. Austin Travis County’s behavioral health department, Integral Care, provided 8-hour MHFA trainings throughout the year at the UT SON for UTMRC members and the larger UT community. Participants learned how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and chemical dependency disorders and earned a 3-year certification in MHFA. UTMRC also partnered with the Association of Nursing Graduate Students (ANGS) and certified wellness providers to provide weekly meditation and yoga sessions at the SON. These interventions were planned and implemented in response to UTMRC’s community assessment, which highlighted a need for mental health support. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are prevalent health issues facing university campuses in the U.S., thus implementation of a mental health program at UT was a logical setting to promote mental health and reduce stress. Through this program, we invited participants of this program to share what they learned to increase awareness of mental health wellbeing. Participants were asked to present to others on the MHFA class and what they learned. Yoga and meditation sessions, as well as MHFA trainings were offered through this program. We observed increased awareness about mental health wellbeing and MHFA training opportunities after implementation of this program.
Funding for Mental Health and Wellbeing Program was provided by the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) Challenge Award.