Promoting Mental Wellness

The inaugural Sources of Strength classThis spring semester, Dorothy Espelage, William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Education, and Anne Drescher, first-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program, led a class of Carolina undergraduates in a course titled “Sources of Strength,” a first-of-its-kind course at UNC-Chapel Hill aimed at promoting mental health and preventing suicide on campus.

The course — made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Triad Foundation and awarded by Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz — draws from Sources of Strength, a best practices youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture. In class, Espelage and Drescher have introduced research on mental health from a number of fields and provided students a place to explore varying facets of mental health in their individual and collective lives.

As part of the course, students have also launched a University-recognized club, engaging with fellow students at on-campus events and planning advocacy campaigns to make Carolina a healthier campus.

Ashlen Wright ‘23, Human Development and Family Studies major and President of the Sources of Strength club said “Sources of Strength takes a different approach than most mental health programs, as it is peer-driven and strengths-based. The program provides a prevention-focused, upstream solution to mental health crises on campus. We felt that it could provide a much-needed cultural shift around student wellness.”

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