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Date: March 9, 2017

To: Dean of Students Office

Student Development at UTC

From: Hannah Wharton

Subject: Proposal for new campus organization

Purpose

The purpose of this proposal is to request the addition of a new organization on campus that will
reach out to students struggling with depression.

Summary

Depression may not stand out as a prominent issue on college campuses, but the Center for
Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State has noted that depression and anxiety are the two leading
mental diagnoses among students. A survey of college counseling centers also showed that of the
students seeking professional guidance, over half were dealing with psychological problems.

While professional guidance is a key part of handling depression and anxiety, it clearly neglects
the issue of students relating to other students within their struggles. One of the main issues
regarding mental illnesses on college campuses is that those who are struggling often put on a
faade and so other students and faculty often overlook whats really going on. Even though
there is the counseling and development Center at UTC, there are no organizations tailored to
bring together those who are struggling with depression and anxiety while also promoting
awareness.

Primarily, research regarding depression and anxiety among college students will be used to
effectively conduct meetings and seminars within the organization regarding sensitive topics, as
well as research on how to properly plan events on campus to promote awareness. Additional
research will view how other universities have handled depression and anxiety on their campuses
outside of counseling centers and drawing ideas from that.

In order to bring this new organization onto campus, the university will need to provide a
licensed counselor faculty member to oversee all meetings and events rather than just a normal
faculty member since there is liability involved with mental illnesses. Essentially, gathering the
research, creating a technical business plan regarding events, and establishing some sort of board
with a licensed counselor should take anywhere from 4-8 weeks.

Should this proposal be approved, the building of this organization and its members would
begin. A progress report would be sent to the dean of students office as well as the office of
student development at UTC on 5/20/2017
Introduction

There is extensive research regarding mental illnesses on college campuses and how often times
professional counseling cant prevent the worst from happening. Struggling students often fake
smiles making it difficult to know who needs support. The problem is that there is a significant
gap between fellow students struggling with depression and anxiety and there is no place on
campus other than a counselors office to get encouragement or help. There is also the problem
of other students being unaware of the seriousness of depression and how prevalent it is around
us.

I propose a student led organization on campus, overseen by a professional counselor that seeks
to bring students struggling with depression and anxiety together in a fun safe environment to
learn more about what theyre going through while being reminded that they arent alone. This
organization will give talks and lessons on coping skills, host meetings where students can come
together and rest in the fact that others are struggling alongside them. It will also host campus
events in order to celebrate the good things in life while making other students aware of the signs
of depression in their peers and also making them aware that they too are not alone in whatever
they are struggling with.

Often times, students who visit counselors for help, feel alone when they step out of that office.
On campus, few, if any, know what they are dealing with. One of the hardest parts of handling
depression and anxiety is that those who are struggling often put up a faade outside of a
counseling center. Basically, students with depression and anxiety see others with perfectly
normal lives, unintentionally compare themselves to those perfect people, and as a method of
coping with their own emotions, they pretend they have perfect lives as well. Therefore, most
of the students needing encouragement and help among peers go unnoticed regardless of the
breakthroughs in a counseling center.

The New York Times recently put out an article addressing suicide and depression across
colleges nationally and shed light on the seriousness of the problem through real stories. In
addition, Penn States Center for Collegiate Mental Health also recently put out a report that
gives details on how dominant depression and anxiety are on college campuses and even
includes statistical data to back it up. While statistics and stories help us realize the seriousness
of an issue, the success of an actual organization shows even more. In the fall of 2016, Jane
Edwards launched a new student-led campus organization at Samford University called, Youre
Not Alone. Its mission was to break the silence surrounding depression and anxiety through
the personal stories and struggles of students as well as through events on campus to promote
awareness. Her success in establishing a chapter at another school not even a year after starting
the organization is proof that the methods of community embodied by the organization were
effective and should also be effective at UTC.

This proposal is for an organization on UTCs campus that will bring together students dealing
with depression and anxiety while creating an understanding, accepting, and enjoyable
environment and promoting awareness. However it is important to address the fact that this
organization should not be a replacement for legitimate counseling services. While overseen by
a licensed counselor, the purpose of the organization is to remind students that they are not alone,
not always to provide answers to emotional distress.

The organization should have a president who oversees all events and meetings and meets
regularly with the faculty counselor overseeing the organization. Initially I am proposing the idea
of a student executive board of sorts but am looking into the possibility of having multiple
committees and having a smaller executive board instead. The executive board would include
the president as well as a treasurer/finance chair, a marketing chair, a community events planning
chair, an internal events planning chair, a fundraising chair, a public relations/social media chair,
and a new member coordinator (although everyone will be welcome to the organization)

Annotated Bibliography

Scelfo, Julie. "Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection." The New York Times. The
New York Times, 27 July 2015. Web. 9 Mar. 2017. Using examples from other college
campuses, the author uses credible information to establish the dominant problem of depression
and anxiety among college students and why it isn't commonly addressed as an issue because it
flies under the radar

Penn State Center for Collegiate Mental Health. 2015, January. 2014 Annual Report. Publication
No. STA 15-30. Using graphs and tables, they show that depression and anxiety are the most
common mental illnesses among college students and elaborate on the importance of getting
professional help.

Tartakovsky, Margarita. "Depression and Anxiety Among College Students." PsychCentral.


PsychCentral, 17 May 2016. Web. 9 Mar. 2017. Discusses contributing factors to depression and
anxiety among college students, sheds light on why students don't seek help, and gives links to
foundations, reports, and surveys discussing the topic at hand.

Edwards, Jane. You're Not Alone. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2017. "You're Not Alone," gives their
mission for their student led organization and their plans for making the problem of depression
on college campuses heard

Proposed Program

Upon approval of this organization, I will complete the following tasks in order to make sure the
organization is organized effectively and ready to be seen by campus.

Task 1. Research effective methods of organization

In order to make sure that this organization doesnt flop, Id like to make sure the group is
organized in a productive way before it begins. In order to do so, Id like to get a better
understanding of how Samford University organized their board for Youre Not Alone. I have
already contacted the president of their organization, who is a friend of mine, and hope to hear
back from her soon with some details.
I will also be conducting more research on additional organizations with similar goals and
reaching out to see how they were successful as well as asking for advice

Task 2. Find a counselor

I plan to contact all of the guidance counselors on UTCs campus to see if theyd be interested in
overseeing the organization. It would be nice to have two counselors, one male and one female,
to help reach both male and female students respectively. I also hope to express the meaning of
this organization in contacting them because I want them to be involved as well and not just
someone who watches. I think its important that they have a heart for the organization aside
from just their job.

Task 3. Recruit people

Before making any plans, I think its important to have people working with me to provide
feedback and suggestions in the planning of the organization. This will include helping me
research topics and events to be held throughout the semester as well as starting a budget. These
people may be on the executive board for the first semester since they will already have a
running idea of how things are planned and work behind the scenes.

Task 4. Research topics

Within the organization I hope to have some meetings where people can learn more about
dealing with their struggles. I have given a couple brief talks before but there are many things to
discuss and Id like to have a better idea of what those might be before planning out a calendar or
events.

I plan on researching seminars, online talks, and article topics that could be useful to college
students. I also intend to research fun events that we could possibly host on and off campus
events planned for the semester.

Task 5. Create Calendar

After researching topics for meetings and fun events to host, I want to put together a calendar by
semester to help organize everything. This calendar may easily be adjusted throughout the year
as opportunities fall through or arise. I hope to have at least one group meeting a week and other
smaller meetings/get-togethers that are more social activities set up throughout the week. I also
hope to have a campus wide event once a month and 1 or 2 community events a semester.

Qualifications/ Personnel

I, Hannah Wharton, will be in charge of this project. I was on the executive board of Samford
Universitys Youre Not Alone Organization as a community events planner and helped them
get their 501C3 to become a nonprofit. I also helped write their business plan.
On a more professional level, I work for a local wedding and events planning company as a
planner and coordinator and I recently revised their business plan and will be inheriting the
company upon finishing my degree

Schedule

Figure 1 is a projected schedule for the completion of tasks regarding the setup of this
organization

Tasks Date of Tasks (be week)


Research
Methods of
Organization
Find Counselor

Recruit People

Research
Topics

Create
Calendar

20 27 3 10 17 24 1 8
March April May

Figure 1. Schedule of Tasks

Budget
I dont intend to receive any pay for my research. However, the organization may need a budget
of about $300 to get started with events and fundraising. If the organization is successful, it may
be beneficial to make it non-profit and get our 501C3 in order that people can donate to us and
get tax refunds.