In an ongoing effort to combat stress, anxiety and depression, Lipscomb has established the second chapter of a faith-based mental health prevention program called UShine.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, young adults, ages 18-25, reported the highest prevalence of any mental illness at 22.1 percent, and of the 22.1 percent of Americans with any mental illness, only 35.1 percent received treatment in 2016.
Lipscomb has seen an increase in its student population seeking counseling since 2013 according to university counseling center data. The counseling center has seen a 358% increase in the number of sessions since 2013.
“We had been looking for some mental health prevention material that really looked at the whole person and had a spiritual aspect to it. When we looked into UShine, it was just exactly what we had been looking for, because it looks at the whole person: mind, body and spirit,” said Andrea Mills, assistant director of the counseling program.
UShine, is a “mental and emotional health program that brings awareness, education and hope to university students.” It has two main programs – UShine Conversations and UShine Healthy Habits. UShine Conversations are holistic seminars to educate students on the science of emotions and give them hope for the future through practical tools. UShine Healthy Habits is a five-week small group workshop for students who struggle with mental health, and for students who have never struggled.
Mills said accountability to yourself and to others is key in maintaining mental health and wellness. Having people to talk with about mental health is the first step to breaking stigmas and creating a safe environment, she said. UShine will start in a small group setting so students and facilitators can develop that accountability and trust.
“The counseling center sees around 232 students a week currently,” said Mills. “For the first time ever, we had to start referring students to the Lipscomb Family Therapy Center, also operated by the department of psychology, counseling and family studies, after the first month of school. We are hoping by teaching students these preventative measures, and creating accountability among friends, students will be able to work through things before they get to the point when they need to see a counselor.”
With the help of facilitators and an advisory board, UShine is “building resilient minds on college campuses.” Lipscomb’s UShine program is still looking for faculty members that are interested in joining the leadership team or advisory board. Anyone interested in joining the advisory board or leadership team, should contact Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental health affects every aspect of our lives, so the advisory and leadership teams need to have diversely talented members to more effectively encompass the whole of a person, said Mills.
“In the past, we haven’t done a good enough job of talking about mental health as something that effects every part of a person,” said Mills, “Their academics, their social relationships, their faith – it’s all integrated. UShine is oriented to the whole person. Every student can benefit from learning this information.”
UShine originated at Oklahoma Christian University by Jennifer Winton, Oklahoma Christian alumna. She was alarmed by the statistics on mental health in students and said she felt called to do something. Winton said she struggled with anxiety and depression in college, and had a hard time finding help during that time. She decided to do some of her own research and uncovered the importance of holistic health.
“It started with my journey of looking at all the pieces of me and what it took to find some true healing,” said Winton. “I wasn’t really ever taught about anxiety and depression at a younger age, and being able to really understand what they were helped me tackle it head on. It took some of the fear out of it, being able to understand it better.”
After reading statistics and uncovering the prevalence of mental illness among college-aged adults, Winton began to build a team and bring an idea to life.
“I wanted to create a ministry organization that was really prevention focused, really positive and hope filled,” said Winton. “I feel like a lot of the resources that were out there were only for people who were really struggling. I wanted to attract people when they’re still at a baseline, before they hit rock bottom.”
In order to bring awareness to Lipscomb students, Winton came to campus during Quest Week and spoke to the freshmen about UShine and did some training with the facilitation team Mills assembled.
“After we spoke to the freshmen during Quest Week, we had a flood of freshmen come over to us and say things like, ‘We need this,’ ‘We’re so excited this will be here’ and ‘Tell us when this program will start.’ I really felt like it was well received by faculty, staff and students alike,” said Winton.
“We have an image on the front of our UShine Healthy Habits guide of a greenhouse with all of these tools and plants,” said Winton. “Throughout the five-week program the students learn different tools to cultivate their mental and emotional health. We have an image of different tools and each one represents something that will help them. We start with physical health, because if you don’t have a good baseline of how to take care of your physical body, it’s really hard to take care of your mental, emotional and spiritual health.”
A new UShine group will start on Monday, Oct. 15 from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. in Ezell 232. Students can sign up by emailing email@example.com. To learn more about UShine events and ways to get involved, follow UShine at @ushinelipscomb, or join the organization’s mailing list. UShine currently holds two breakout chapels on Thursdays as well.