Be their strength. Innovative Approaches to Mental Health Resources for Students

International Students, Risk Management, Student Affairs, Student Health, Value-Added Benefits

Everyone experiences a range of emotions. There will be times when an individual is joyful, but other times they may feel angry or sad. It’s a normal part of life.  However, just because it is normal does not mean an individual doesn’t need support to make it through the rough times, especially when a student is feeling depressed or suicidal.

And it is important to note that college can be a particularly hard time in a student’s life. They are transitioning into adulthood, taking on the additional pressure of college coursework, and many times leaving their families and home country, in the case of international students. This makes it exceptionally important that this vulnerable population is receiving support.

There are different methods people often use to get themselves through the hard times. Some of these methods are healthy, such as exercise, therapy, and music. Other methods can be dangerous and potentially fatal, such as illegal drugs or alcohol.  Whatever works best for you, we all need something or someone to be our strength when we need it most.

Research conducted by the American College Health Association found that 80% of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do; 60% felt very sad; 50% felt overwhelming anxiety; 8% seriously considered suicide, and 30% of students reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function. With so many students in distress, we could assume that many would be seeking professional help. However, the research also showed that only 10% were getting help from a professional.

So how are students getting the support they need?

There is a new and innovative behavioral health product in the market developed specifically for students. It is called myStrength. myStrength is a community-oriented mental health tool offering students personalized evidence–based activities to help build mental strength.

There are two key components of myStrength that we can learn from when developing a campus mental health program:

1.Online Community
Many times, when someone is suffering from a mental illness, such as addiction or depression, they feel alone. Unfortunately, since there is a stigma around mental illness, they may be too embarrassed to reach out for support. There is also the fear of being judged as “weak” or “crazy” by others in their peer group. We often hear about addiction support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. There is less awareness of support groups for other behavioral health concerns. Group therapy has its benefits and its downfalls. One of the downfalls being an individual’s willingness, or lack thereof, to share personal information with a group. myStrength’s community forums allow users to have open conversation while remaining anonymous. Therefore, there is less concern for issues of confidentiality. Research also suggests that individuals are more open to disclosing personal information online than in person.

2. Activity-based
Adult coloring books are one of the latest new trends. (You can jump on this trend by offering them in your Student Health and Counseling Centers.) These are often commended for their ability to combat stress. So how exactly does it do this? “In simplest terms, coloring has a de-stressing effect because when we focus on a particular activity, we focus on it and not on our worries.” People also happen to have short attention spans so an engaging and interactive approach to mental health has its benefits. myStrength offers over 100 activities including videos, articles, inspirational quotes, and mindfulness exercises. Our favorite part is that the topics are all student focused and were designed from student feedback.


How is your school incorporating these concepts into your mental health resources for students?

Let us know by sending us a tweet.


myStrength is now being offered to students on school-sponsored plans through Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of TX, IL, NM, MO, and OK. To learn more about this product, email us at