January 24, 2022
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Pilot HYPE on Campus program to start in fall 2021

Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE) to assist students in achieving academically and in their careers.

One student tutors another. One student tutors another.
One student tutors another. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

In fall 2021, Binghamton University and the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) will debut an initiative designed to assist students with mental health conditions to achieve their academic goals and advance their careers.

The program — Helping Youth on the Path to Employment (HYPE on Campus), in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Medical School — is designed to help identified students develop skills such as time management, prioritization and organization,and receive individualized support from trained graduate interns. It will be coordinated through the University’s Services for Students with Disabilities office.

Binghamton University and CCPA were chosen to collaborate with and initiate HYPE On Campus after an extensive national search, said Michelle Mullen, HYPE’s developer and the project’s principal investigator. She believes that CCPA will be a perfect fit as a research collaborator for this pilot program.

“It’s hard to find partner institutions that are able to invest in rigorous research,” Mullen said. “This was an amazing opportunity for [the University of Massachusetts Medical School] too. As you develop evidence, you need to be able to do it in a rigorous but flexible way. So the marrying of a clinical trial and implementation science will allow us to be mindful of what Binghamton students need as well as maintain the integrity of a rigorous clinical trial.”

CCPA Dean Laura Bronstein believes that HYPE On Campus will provide an opportunity for CCPA students to get hands-on career experience, and will be a great resource for all of the University’s students.

“Binghamton University and CCPA have a real commitment to groups that are underserved,” Bronstein said. “We’re committed to the health and mental health of all people, including college students. HYPE is a perfect fit for CCPA and our mission. Students on both sides will get to be a part of a really innovative and cutting-edge program. Master of Social Work student interns will get amazing career experience working with college students, while they also get to support the success of students on their own campus.”

According to Mullen, college students with mental health issues are an especially vulnerable population and require resources so they can properly thrive in both academic and professional environments.

“Students with mental health conditions have a high attrition rate and are perceived to be the group with the most vulnerabilities related to academic persistence, so a dropout rate of about 86% is what is estimated for this group,” Mullen said. “If you sub out any other population, there would be an amazing amount of attention given to that population, so we’re excited to have the opportunity to build evidence that says ‘if you do these types of things, students with mental health conditions will stay on campus, they’ll persist and they’ll perform better.’”

Through an evidence-based model, HYPE On Campus hopes to direct students to the services and technology they need to prosper at the University, as well as learn critical skills that they can take with them once they graduate and begin their careers.

“We believe that disability services should focus on assistive technology and services so that people can have equity in their classrooms,” Mullen said. “Counseling services focus on the counseling side of mental health services and how that affects them. Our job will be to bridge together the services on campus so that this population doesn’t fall through the cracks.

“What we do know is that college students with mental health conditions struggle to utilize mental health resources effectively,” Mullen added. “By partnering with Binghamton University, we have enthusiastic offices that are really interested in adapting and learning the model, trying it out and thinking about what students at Binghamton need.”

HYPE On Campus will help bring together assistance from offices including Services for Students with Disabilities, tutoring services, the University Counseling Center and others, all with the goal of supporting students and connecting them to the support structures that they need, increasing the University’s capacity to serve current and incoming students with mental health issues.

HYPE On Campus will also help expose students to the kind of support that the University community has to offer, according to Dianne Gray, director of Services for Students with Disabilities.

“I think that there are a lot of students at Binghamton University who don’t realize that they qualify for our support services and academic accommodations,” Gray said. “HYPE On Campus will raise the level of awareness of the amount of support that students struggling with mental health conditions have on campus, as well as reduce the stigma of asking for help. This program is a tremendous opportunity to reach out to students who are struggling with mental health conditions.”

One of the ways that HYPE On Campus hopes to prevent students from falling through the cracks is by using an “intentional coaching method,” to help students with issues such as motivation. Students who utilize HYPE On Campus will be taught skills and be mentored by Binghamton University graduate social work student interns.

According to Bronstein, this program and collaboration are a great fit for the University and CCPA, and will allow students to get the help they need while also showing them in real time how evidence-based approaches to research can change the lives of disadvantaged people and groups.

“This is a unique opportunity, and it’s clear that Binghamton and UMass share a passion for developing this kind of competency and awareness, and changing the college landscape,” Bronstein said. “HYPE is a program that’s based on evidence and is being evaluated in a rigorous way. As a Research-1 University, Binghamton is committed to teaching our students methods that use the best evidence. Now, thanks to the collaboration between CCPA and the Division of Student Affairs, Binghamton will work with UMass Medical School to implement an intervention for college students experiencing mental health challenges that can create barriers to their academic success.”

Posted in: Campus News