Spreading Mental Health Awareness at Carroll Community College

May 25, 2021

By Kierstin Klimas, CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Community Resource Liaison with Carroll Community College

As a CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA Member, I develop networks of support for students at Carroll Community College. Serving as the Community Resource Liaison, I research student needs and identify the barriers that students face in achieving academic success. I identify resources offered through the College and externally through community organizations and build partnerships between the College and the community. I am building a digital resource database to house information about these resources and partnerships for students, faculty, and staff, which is the culmination and deliverable of this VISTA project.

While researching and speaking with students about their experiences and the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their academic success, I hoped to find a way to provide more immediate support and resource access to our students. In a Fall 2020 Student Concern Survey, students reported mental health as one of their biggest concerns. As a result, our office planned a Virtual Mental Health Awareness Program to run in the beginning of October.

Based on the health needs we assessed, we designed the event as three separate break-out presentations. To identify topic presenters, we tapped into our community network of mental health stakeholders, engaging with the wisdom and resources of the community so that students could hear directly from local mental health experts. This was also a great opportunity to strengthen the connections between the College and these external partners, as we continued to build a sustainable community network of support. When students registered for the event, they could view the topics and select which presentations they wanted to attend. This empowered students to identify their interests and concerns, as well as gain access to the information and resources that they most needed to be successful.

The learning outcomes for this program were as follows:

  • To engage, educate, and inform our students about mental health, the designated topic areas, and how they can access resources & information through Carroll Community College.
  • To connect students to Carroll Community College & community clubs, groups, organizations, services, and overall resources to empower them in their wellness journey and support their academic success.

These outcomes were most certainly reached: students participated in the program with record attendance for our virtual events, and they received information and resources about their chosen mental health topics, including two digital handouts.

Students were connected with on-campus and community resources, organizations, and events through a Mental Health Resources & Events Guide, as well as empowered to reflect on their own self-care practices through a Self-Care Reflection. Additionally, students were provided with information about how to advocate for themselves and ask for help with mental, emotional, and human services through The Office of Student Care & Integrity, as well as how to connect with their peers to discuss and support each other’s mental wellness through the College’s revitalized Active Minds chapter and new Mind/Body Wellness Group.

The driving force behind CCMA is to empower those in our communities to build effective and strong networks of their own. In conjunction with member institutions, CCMA has identified an opportunity to address poverty and tackle inequity through supporting college, career, and civic readiness in individuals and communities in the region. CCMA’s Collective Impact Initiative centers these objectives as a vital component in the VISTA programs that it supports at member institutions.

For more information on Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic’s Collective Impact Initiative, please contact Jim Walters at walters {at} ccmidatlantic(.)org.

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