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Proposal: The Development of Mental Health Programs at Bryn Mawr College

Our interests and goals:

We both chose to do research on the topic of Mental Health on bases of personal experience or personal interest pertaining to this topic. We will be researching Mental Health programs at Bryn Mawr and programs histoically on campus. Increase focus on Mental Health during the past century has come up internationally, as people recognized that mental health is just as important as physical health. We decided to narrow our focus to Bryn Mawr College specifically and see if the school also paralleled this phenomenon. We are dividing our research into two categories that of programs that cater toward individual needs, such as counselling, and programs that are more outreaching, such as THRIVE that freshman are required to take.  By looking for the history and develop process of these two component of the school’s mental health care system, we’ll try to draw an overall view of the development our school’s mental health program.


Why interest in this topic and what will we do:

Jasmine: My curiosity for researching Mental Health programs at Bryn Mawr stemmed from my personal experience dealing with mental health within my family and friends. In my high school, it was hard to receive counseling because it was a large school with limited counselors. Also, there were never talks about the importance of staying healthy mentally. I found THRIVE pretty fascinating when I came to Bryn Mawr. I will look more into how programs made to reach a larger number of people were created, like THRIVE, that teaches students how to better manage stress, how to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety, and, in general, ways of acknowledging and dealing with mental health.

So, why and how THRIVE created? Is it completely new or does it parallel a similar course from the past? Courses like this are beneficial and, in fact, essential in that they make can make people who weren’t aware that they have a negative way of thinking aware and teaches them how to address this. Also THRIVE provides an open place to talk about feelings that one may not feel comfortable expressing in a more private situation. They can hear that other people are facing similar issues and they are not alone. It’s interesting which topics are discussed in THRIVE and we wonder how and why these topics were chosen.

I will go about learning this information by talking to my THRIVE professor, talking to the THRIVE wellness coordinator, Tonja Nixon, and going to the library and looking through the archives.


Rachel: My interest in the mental health derives from my experience in high school. Whenever my friends felt down or felt confused about their life, I would always play the role as a listener of them. And I always tried to cheer them up in my way and offered help within my ability range. And I always received good feedbacks no matter it was by words or face expression such as “I feel much better.” or just a relieving smile. That arises my interest in psychology and the willing to be a therapist. I’m curious about how an institute provides mental care for students. To be specific, how is the counselling service in Bryn Mawr like?

Then I raised these questions: what kind of the counselling service can a school offer to the students? How did it develop in the history? If there was any big event happened? Does the counselling service offered by a school (here, specifically refers to Bryn Mawr) differ from the normal counseling service offered by a psych clinic? (and so on.)

To answer these questions, I’ll gather information by three ways. The first is interviewing the director of our school’s counseling service program, Reggie Jones. In the interview, besides the history and current condition of the counselling service program, I’m also interested in the future plan of this program. Will the school keep putting more effort in students’ mental health? If so, what specific actions may the school or health center take?

The second is experiencing the counseling service on my own. First-hand Experience can be a valuable resource. Though it may be subject thus can’t be a strong supporting evidence, it can help me to really understand what I am researching.

And the third one I will do it together with Jasmine, which is looking for document which provides the historical information of the various mental health programs in our school.


jccohen's picture

Jasmine and Rachel,

I’m intrigued by your choice of focus and the two ways you’re approaching the question of mental health at Bryn Mawr.  I’m curious to hear what you learn about how these two different approaches – THRIVE and the counseling center – operate separately and perhaps in some ways come together on campus.

It’s worth noting that THRIVE is a new program this year, revised from the earlier Wellness program, and so only first-years are experiencing this version.  You might want to talk with someone involved with the old and new program – my suggestion would be Dean Rose and perhaps also Dean Balthazar.  Might you also want to do a few interviews with students about their experience of this program so far?

With regard to the history of the counseling service, I’m wondering what kinds of resources you might find in the Archives/Special Collections.  Also, you might want to interview a few students about their experiences with the counseling service.

I look forward to what we'll learn in this investigation!