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Rates of mental illness among college students are at a record high (64% of students who drop out of college leave school due to complications with their mental illness)
Individuals with mental illness face societal stigma, discrimination, and oppression (Social support is crucial to recovery, but stigma often results in isolation)
Many barriers exist within the current model of mental health care that prevent people from accessing care, and from attempting to access care
Services delivered and communities built by peers with lived experience, for peers.
What do LETS chapters provide?
Peer-run, student mental health organizations
Customized mental health training for teaching faculty, administration, and disability services
Educational panels + workshops led by students with lived experience
Confidential peer counseling programs
Suicide prevention programs + training
Information during tours, orientation + campus-wide events
Student health centers + wellness centers
Student run crisis lines
Increased transparency regarding mental illness related policies
Policy reform and advocacy services
Why isn't awareness enough?
Mental health literacy is not enough. Raising awareness about mental illnesses without also addressing health disparities, cultural differences, inadequacy of mental health care treatments, insurance issues, and professional and clinical stigma is not enough. We must actively work to create accessible resources, reform existing oppressive policies, and understand that clinical and professional help does not work for everybody. We must actively support individuals with mental illness on college campuses, and not just shout into the void.
CATEGORY 1: ACTIVIST + COMMUNITY SUPPORT CHAPTERS
The majority of our chapters are Category 1: Activist and Community Support Chapters. These chapters meet weekly, and prioritize building strong systems of support for their community (peer support). In addition, chapters engage in campus-wide activities, such as: facilitating student-led workshops + panels/discussions, reforming university policies, designing campaigns + initiatives (i.e. Eating Disorder Awareness Week), and leading LETS Spaces (i.e. Creative Arts Spaces). Though Project LETS has a handbook, guidelines, and sample programs - your chapter has the ability to customize + modify our materials to fit your community needs. All we ask is that you stick to our ethics and values.
CATEGORY 2: PEER MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE MODEL
Currently, Brown University has completed a three-year pilot trial of our Category 2 program - The Peer Mental Health Advocate (PMHA) Model. Through this model, we train students with lived experience to act as counselors/advocates for their fellow students. Our service is free and confidential (including self-harm and suicidal thoughts) and we are not currently partnered with or embedded within institutional structures. Additionally, we allow students to choose PMHAs they identify with, and creates a visible network of 'out' students with mental illness. This innovate program structure offers: 1) one-on-one peer counseling partnerships; 2) assistance with self-advocacy efforts; 3) individual crisis response services; 4) facilitation of healthy coping mechanisms; and 4) linkage to resources. PMHAs participate in a comprehensive + rigorous training course for six-weeks - led by qualified student coordinators (trained by their National Coordinator).
In April, we will be releasing our Brown University Impact Report for more specific details on the program + its outcomes. We have seen exciting + promising results during our pilot program, and have identified a few key (preliminary) elements of success:
Fills the patient-provider gap on campuses with limited resources
Deconstructs internalized stigma
Incites co-empowerment + the development of self-advocacy skills
Allows for self-directed care + increased participation in the medical decision-making process
Provides immediate access to emotional support, crisis services, + a counselor peers can identify with
Mutually benefits both peer and PMHA