Wednesday, February 06, 2008

DZ's Train Volunteers About Mental Health

Delta Zeta Implements Online Program to Assist Student Mental Health Issues

MentalHealthEdu™ designed to assist students with mental health concerns

FEBRUARY 6, 2008 – Oxford, OH – Delta Zeta Sorority announced today that it will implement an online program, MentalHealthEdu, which will serve as a resource for Delta Zeta chapter advisors.

The sorority is the first Greek organization in the nation to offer the program as a training vehicle to its volunteers.

“Delta Zeta is dedicated to the health and well-being of our members, and we know that early intervention with mental health concerns is one of the best ways to ensure their ongoing success-academically and personally,” said Michelle Smith, National President of Delta Zeta.

“This step recognizes the unique role that our volunteers who advise collegiate members can play in assisting students who may be experiencing difficulty.”

The initiative is the result of direct feedback from a number of Delta Zeta volunteers, who, in a recent survey, reported that they did not feel adequately prepared to deal with certain mental health issues encountered while advising collegiate members, including self-injury and eating disorders.

In response to this feedback, Delta Zeta decided to implement the program as a training vehicle for its official volunteers, including its College Chapter Directors (CCDs), and employees such as House Directors and Educational Leadership Consultants, who interact with the college-age women on a regular basis.

The sorority will also offer MentalHealthEdu to its Regional Collegiate Coordinators (RCCs) and members of its National Council and National Chairmen. This year, approximately 250 volunteers will be invited to take the online program, which is now a part of Delta Zeta’s core training curriculum.

Delta Zeta’s approach towards mental health is essential in stemming the impact on both campus culture and graduation rates.

From 1989-2001, Kansas State University found that the number of students with documented cases of depression doubled, and the percentage of students taking psychiatric medications rose from 10% to 25%. Further, in 2006, the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment found that during a 12-month period, 42% of college students felt so depressed at times that it was difficult to function and 9% had seriously considered suicide.

MentalHealthEdu engages an entire campus community in the campaign for overall student wellness. The program provides participants with the information and tools they need to identify and assist distressed students. Participants learn about the increasing number of mental health issues on college campuses and the leading causes of distress in students.

Suggestions for approaching distressed students and exercises that present realistic situations help administrators, faculty, and staff play an effective role in health promotion by giving them the skills to feel confident in offering support and directing students to appropriate campus resources.

The program was developed by Boston-based Outside The Classroom. Delta Zeta plans to use MentalHealthEdu to empower its volunteers by helping them understand their unique opportunity to assist students with mental health concerns.

“We’re proud to offer MentalHelathEdu as a resource for our volunteer leaders,” said Smith. “We’re confident that this program will assist our advisors in guiding women to appropriate help when needed.”