Bentley’s Develop U Program Receives National Recognition from NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
Bentley University’s Develop U community prevention and outreach initiative received national recognition with a Silver Excellence Award from NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Under the category “Student Health, Wellness, Counseling, and Related,” the award was announced at the NASPA annual conference in March.
The award recognizes “excellence and innovation in student affairs programs and initiatives”. Submissions were judged by student affairs professionals with direct experience in the category.
Initiated and managed by psychologists Brenda Hawks and Stephanie Kendall of the Office of Counseling and Student Development (CSD), Develop U was created three years ago to address the unique mental health needs of business students at an undergraduate business university.
According to a 2009 report by Eduventures, business students nationally are less likely to report serious mental health problems, less willing to seek counseling, and less likely to take psychotropic medications.
Develop U evolved following a campus-wide assessment of the specific mental health needs of students on Bentley’s campus, and includes a dynamic peer education program. Goals include:
- Promoting well-rounded development as equal to professional achievement.
- Fostering a “caring community” among students, faculty, and staff which increases help-seeking among students most at risk for serious mental health issues.
- Decreasing the stigma associated with mental health issues, emotional needs, and counseling.
- Increasing healthy coping and reducing risky behaviors among students.
- Increasing student engagement in authentic, supportive, and emotionally intimate relationships.
“Efforts have raised student’s awareness of counseling services offered on campus, and have increased attendance at outreach events such as national Depression Screening Day and exam de-stress events,” notes Brenda Hawks, associate director of counseling at Bentley. “The student to student engagement provided by our peer educators regarding the importance of mental health seems to not only increase participation rates at awareness events but also increases student support for better mental health on campus. These reinforce our goal to foster a supportive campus environment.”