Dr. Brendan B. Kelly of the University of West Georgia and leaders of his student life staff are discussing the importance of mental health as a primary factor in college success. In a recent webinar hosted by Sharpen, Kelly and his colleagues encouraged other Georgia college and university leaders and educators to make student mental health a priority and to take advantage of services such as Sharpen Colleges, a mobile and online mental health resource designed for college students.
This exclusive presentation is now available as a free webinar to all college and technical school leaders at https://bit.ly/sharpen-webinar.
Anxiety affects college students at a higher rate than the general population, and the continued quarantine guidelines make their lives even tougher.
“Physical and mental health of a student are essential to educational success,” said Kelly, formerly Chancellor at the University of South Carolina Upstate. “The programs offered through Sharpen Colleges are exceptional tools students can use to improve their mental health.”
Sharpen collaborates with licensed mental health professionals to provide students self-help information, techniques, and guidance in a safe environment. Unique to Sharpen, the content is offered in the voices and perspectives of students themselves to increase engagement and decrease stigma.
“With the huge increase over the past 10 years in students seeking counseling, our focus has shifted to augmenting in-person counseling,” said Dr. Lisa Adams, director of counseling and accessibility at UWG. “Apps like Sharpen Colleges provide important support for students between counseling appointments.”
Between 2009 and 2015, the number of U.S. college students visiting counseling centers increased by about 30 percent, prompting these counseling centers to seek new solutions, which ensure all students get the help they need.
Despite the increase in use, Dr. André L. Fortune, vice president for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management at UWG noted, “We also must address the unfortunate stigmatization of mental health within communities of color and in low-income populations. At my former college, USC Upstate, implementing Sharpen improved group engagement in mental health activities on campus. As that stigma is reduced, tools like Sharpen provide all students with access to learn more about mental health resources.”
For more than 10 years, Sharpen has worked with individuals from diverse backgrounds and with national experts and researchers to create a library of over 450 educational modules that have shown to decrease stigma, improve the connection to treatment, and improve mindfulness and healthy coping skills. Sharpen breaks down barriers by providing resources from the voices and perspectives of diverse individuals. As with all campuses, it is important to customize content to the needs of the student population.
"The customizable part is the most valuable aspect from where I stand,” Adams said. “It is so helpful to be able to look at our student population specifically with these resources in mind."
“During this pandemic, with many students taking courses virtually, it is more important than ever to support our students’ mental health, as well as their physical health,” Kelly said. “The programs offered through Sharpen will be transformative in how students can improve their resiliency from the privacy of their own homes or residence hall rooms."