According to a 2017 article in USA Today College, 66% of student affairs administrators identified mental health as their top concern. As more and more colleges and universities race to keep up with the demand for services, students and faculty are taking part in activities to find solutions to this growing issue and to make a difference on their campuses and communities.
Every year, A-G Associates convenes the Dr. Lonnie E. Mitchell (LEM) Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Behavioral Health Academy in honor of the legacy and work of Dr. Lonnie E. Mitchell, an esteemed educator, administrator, and psychotherapist. His extensive research and work in the substance abuse and mental health fields continues to this day on many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) campuses. This year’s event, which was held on February 23-25, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina, assembled faculty, staff, and students from the nation’s HBCUs to converge for a two-day event to discuss the advancements in behavioral health research, how to address the initial onset of a mental health diagnosis, and mental health and substance abuse issues facing students in college. Attendees also participated in discussions that focused on leadership development, evidenced-based and culturally-appropriate therapies to address mental health issues, innovative strategies to address the growing opioid crisis, and early intervention of alcohol use. Based on feedback from attendees, this year’s LEM was one of the best to date.
We provided support to approximately 100 attendees which included subject matter experts, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration staff, and other vital attendees. In order to ensure that attendees had the best experience possible, A-G was responsible for managing all logistical aspects of the meeting, including:
- Site selection and hotel negotiations;
- Registration website;
- Agenda development;
- Coordination of travel and lodging arrangements;
- Creation of event materials and signage; and
- Correspondence with all attendee inquiries and travel-related issues.
In addition to the logistical management, from the inception of the LEM HBCU Behavioral Health Summit, A-G staff have been instrumental in providing oversight and direction in developing all program design components from the agenda to the evaluation. These components have included a tool kit, the use of facilitators, team meetings, workshops and plenary sessions, the Market Place, poster sessions, the Written Word Display, and stakeholder engagement as described below:
- Tool kit was developed for participants to capture their most critical ideas, thoughts, and strategies while attending the Behavioral Health Summit. The tool kit also provided a guide for teams to identify their program priorities and develop a sustainable program action plan.
- Facilitator support was used to ensure that each assigned HBCU team achieved the goals outlined in the tool kit, ensures a draft action plan was developed, and finally ensures the written team-based feedback is collected and turned in at the end of the Summit. Facilitators were recruited and trained to serve in this role.
- Team meetings were held to develop each HBCU’s action plan, to promote a more interactive process. Participants learned what other HBCUs were doing to promote healthy life styles, discourage high risk behavior and to help those students struggling with behavioral health challenges.
- Plenary and Workshops were used to enhance skills, knowledge, and attitude during the Academy. A-G staff were instrumental in working with a Planning Committee to recruit presenters. Presenters and moderator guides were developed to ensure that each presentation was consistent with the theme of the Summit.
- Market Place and poster sessions provided an opportunity for participants to network and obtain resource materials. Opportunities to have one-on-ones with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration staff, A-G staff, the facilitators, and the HBCU Center for Excellence were also available for participants to get professional development advice. Finally, poster sessions were showcased during the Market Place featuring Treatment and Recovery Evidenced-Based Best Practices.
- The Written Word Display provided an opportunity for participants to share their written thoughts on display to respond to various questions about behavioral health.
- Stakeholder Engagement was provided following the Summit for those HBCUs in need of developing a more strategic approach to gain buy-in from their administration and key campus organizations to address behavioral health on their campuses.
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