CUMBERLAND — Roughly 8 million, or 40%, of postsecondary students across the nation reported experiencing a significant mental health problem, according to a 2018-19 Health Minds survey. Dropout rates for students with a diagnosed mental health problem ranged from 43% to 86%. These individuals may continue to experience lifelong mental health problems unless they learn healthy coping skills or access professional help. Without a degree or credential, they may also experience lower levels of economic attainment.
As more is learned about mental health’s impact on student success — a matter brought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic — many higher education programs are ramping up their multiprong approach to student health and wellbeing. Institutions are seeking new ways to address escalating mental health crises on and off campus.
To assist them, Allegany College of Maryland will host a free virtual “Building Resilience through Mind-Body Medicine” summit for Maryland community colleges from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on April 29.
Leadership from all Maryland community colleges are invited to attend to learn how mind-body skills can be a resource for students and staff on their campuses and build resilience in their broader communities.
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine uses evidence-based techniques, including: meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback and creative expression.
Mind-body skills alleviate stress in the mind and body, calming the fight or flight response and providing relief from psychological freezing that often accompanies trauma.
Students who learn and practice these skills are better able to self-regulate physiological function, enhance psychological well-being and build resilience.
The summit’s presenters include Dr. James Gordon, executive director of CMBM; Toni Bankston and Sabrina N’Diaye, social workers; Thaddeus Gamory, retired New York Police Department lieutenant; Cherie Snyder, professor at ACM; and Julie Staples, research director at CMBM. Additional presenters include community college partners who participated in prior training sessions and members of the local grant team.
ACM and the Center for Mind-Body Medicine have collaborated for nearly 20 years. For the past two years, they’ve partnered with other Maryland-based community colleges to develop an evidence-based, sustainable and effective mental health resource for students, employees and communities. Registration information is available at allegany.edu/summit.
“Not having coping skills can sink even the most gifted student. When students have coping skills in their toolbox to manage stressful situations and challenges, they become resilient, emboldened learners. They see improvement in all facets of their lives, from resisting destructive behaviors to embracing healthier relationships. For colleges, having resilient students creates a healthier, more productive learning environment while at the same time, providing skills for life as parents, partners, workers and citizens,” said Snyder.
“These groups offer students the support that some may need to cope with the stresses of life,” said Mary Knarr, a nursing professor at Cecil College who participated in beginner and advanced training sessions through ACM. “I plan to offer these groups to students for many years, even after I retire. It is my sincere hope that these groups can have a positive impact on students, give them the tools they need to better manage the rigors of college, and help them develop coping skills that can guide them throughout their life.”
“The beauty of the CMBM model is the way it builds awareness, resilience and connection across communities. We feel extremely blessed to have this powerful mental health resource ready to scale at this moment of unprecedented need,” said Kathy Condor, summit coordinator and director of Health and Human Services for ACM’s Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development.
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