Approximately four years ago, the Hinds Utica Campus Division of Social Sciences/Education began a peer educators initiative that sought to provide activities specific to the behavioral health needs of the student population. The initiative was designed to identify behavior or health needs, intervene when necessary, and refer treatment for those who needed it.
As a result of the initiative, a mini grant was written through the Utica Campus Title III program and has been funded in the amount of $7,500 to continue in that effort. The Title III proposal, U-HELP: Utica Healthy Engagement Leads to Prevention, is now a collaborative project between the Social Sciences/Education Division and the Health and Wellness Program.
The aim of U-HELP is to strengthen the social, emotional and reasoning skills of the students in an effort to aid them in making wise choices. The main focus of the project is geared toward prevention of substance abuse through early intervention and clinical referrals. The mission of the project is to recruit and train student leaders to become peer educators. These students will then coordinate activities supported by the behavioral health component of the Health and Wellness Center on the Utica Campus.
The projects will provide opportunities for the peer educators to strengthen their leadership skills, become student mentors and role models, assist their peers in recognizing when help and change are needed, and assist their peers in locating services and activities that are available when needed.
Students who are particularly encouraged to become peer educators are those whose majors are in the area of social work/sociology, psychology, education and science. The requirements for becoming a peer educator include a faculty recommendation, a clean disciplinary record, an essay on “Why I Am a Suitable Candidate for the U-HELP Project” and at least a 2.2 GPA that leads to transferring to a four- year institution.
The project was funded by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Center for Excellence (HBCU-CFE) in Behavioral Health. The directors of the project are Dr. Gloria Daniels, chairperson of the Social Sciences Division and Lena Mason, director of the Health and Wellness program. Dr. Tiffany Anderson is coordinator of the Title III-Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) program.
The Wellness Complex on the Utica Campus