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THRIVE Program

Why do we have THRIVE at RMU?
The Jed Foundation says it best on their Half of Us campaign webpage: 
"Mental health issues are a reality for millions of people across the country. Young people are especially at risk, with half of college students reporting that they have been stressed to a point where they couldn’t function during the past year. The impact of mental illness is so devastating that suicide is the third leading cause of death among all people ages 15-24. The good news is that nearly all mental health issues can be improved with proper treatment. When we decrease the stigma around mental health and encourage help-seeking, we can change and save lives."

At the RMU Counseling Center, we believe that student leaders play a critical role in reducing the stigma around mental health and in helping build a campus community where emotional wellness is a priority. 

Mission of the THRIVE Program: 
The THRIVE Program strives to provide campus outreach for mental health and wellness initiatives through peer educators, known as THRIVE Leaders. THRIVE Leaders are trained on mental health issues, suicide prevention, drugs and alcohol prevention, and sexual assault prevention, diversity, and common wellness concerns using a public health approach. They serve the campus community by “building a bridge” between the Counseling Center and students, primarily by developing and implementing outreach programs/events that will positively impact the campus community. When THRIVE Leaders become aware of individual students needing support, they provide referrals to appropriate resources and act as role models for self-care. THRIVE accomplishes this mission through education, outreach, and raising awareness on campus.

Goals of the THRIVE Program: 
  • Connect with peers to increase help seeking behaviors among the student population
  • Provide peer-to-peer education on mental health, stress reduction, and healthy decision-making
  • Eliminate stigma of mental health on campus
  • Sponsor wellness events to benefit the campus community
Roles of the THRIVE Leader: 
  • Serve as a liaison between the Counseling Center and students
  • Develop and implement outreach programs/events that will positively impact students 
  • Be aware of individual students needing support and provide them with referrals
  • Take care of themselves and be a good role model for other students 
Qualifications to Become a THRIVE Leader:
Program supervisors work closely with THRIVE Leaders over the course of their tenure to develop skills and knowledge to help them grow as campus leaders. However, it is critical that students already have a strong foundation in demonstrating the following qualities in order to become THRIVE Leaders:
  • Dependability: THRIVE Leaders are expected to be reliable and trustworthy. This means the ideal THRIVE Leader candidate should, by nature, be prompt, reliable, and able to hold sensitive information in confidentiality.
  • Adaptability: THRIVE leaders are expected to be able to adjust to change and show a willingness to be flexible in their approach to solving problems. This means the ideal THRIVE Leader candidate should generally be accepting of new situations, able to balance their personal responsibilities effectively, and comfortable with making decisions independently when needed. 
  • Initiative: THRIVE Leaders are expected to be creative and responsible. This means the ideal THRIVE Leader candidate should be excited to tackle challenges and come up with fresh ideas, comfortable with serving as a role model to other students in promoting a healthy campus community, and willing to find tasks to do when none are assigned.
  • Knowledge/Interest: THRIVE leaders are expected to have basic knowledge of critical mental health issues on college campuses and have a good understanding why it is they are interested in this opportunity. This means the ideal THRIVE Leader candidate should already have an interest in wellness and be able to articulate why they are choosing to apply for this leadership opportunity in particular. 
Applications are closed for the 2018-2019 academic year. Applications for the 2019-2020 academic year will be available at the start of the Spring 2019 Semester.

2017-2018 THRIVE Leaders

Kimberly Smith

Kim is a senior who is majoring in Marketing. She joined THRIVE her sophomore year at RMU and is one of THRIVE's two Co-Directors. She is also a member and Vice President of New Member Education of Delta Zeta. The main reason Kim was interested in joining THRIVE was because she has struggled with anxiety ever since she was young and says that it continues to affect her life daily. She has always wanted to make a difference and help people as much as she can and THRIVE gives her the chance to do so by connecting with students and spreading awareness about mental health. Kim believes that mental health outreach is so important in today's society and THRIVE gives RMU students the opportunity to open up and share their struggles and experiences in order to break the stigma that surrounds mental health.  Kim loves how THRIVE has given her so many opportunities that she will forever be thankful for. She says she is so proud to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Some fun facts about Kim include her favorite book being Gone Girl, her favorite color being red, and that she loves makeup and watching beauty videos on YouTube. One day, she hopes to have her own YouTube channel and possibly have her own line of makeup or nail polish! Kim practices self-care by remembering to put her mental health above all things and by always giving herself time to relax at the end of the day.

Alex Temple

Alex is a Co-Director of Thrive, and he is entering his junior year at Robert Morris University where he is studying Sport Management as well as Marketing. Alex joined Thrive because he has always had a desire to help others. He understands that mental health is an issue all over the world and has witnessed people struggle with issues such as anxiety and depression that led to his desire to make a difference. Alex is also in Best Buddies and is the Vice President of the Class of 2019. He practices self-care by paddle boarding, hiking, and playing with dogs.

Douglas Cole Jr.

Douglas is a sophomore communications major here at Robert Morris University. Douglas has been interested in mental health since he was a child, growing up with a special needs twin. He often wondered what other people felt about his brother or how he himself lived with that experience. After going through some things his senior year of high school and freshman year of college he realized he needed help and went to the counseling center on campus. He began to fix his own mental problems and feel as though he had to stand up and represent something greater than him. His key desire is to impact others and make others feel welcomed and normal while they all know they're unique. He also is an aspiring DJ, spinning at clubs like Diesel and art galleries like Boom Concepts. Douglas is also a poet who was published in 2017 through Robert Morris' RUNE literary magazine. 

Jessica Friss

Jess is a junior who is majoring in Environmental Science. She is interested in mental health outreach because she believes it is important for everyone to be able to talk about their well-being, and not feel ashamed or alone. She is involved in Student Alliance for Equality, Phi Sigma Pi (a gender inclusive honor fraternity), the Honors Student Advisory Council, and Strong Women Strong Girls. Jess spent her summer working full time at the Frick Environmental Center through the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s Education Team as a camp counselor where she got to be outside all the time, and educating kids on the different ways you can be a part of your local environment. After college she hopes to continue to be an Environmental Educator, and maybe even thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Jess practices self-care by taking time at the end of every day to relax, and do something simple that she enjoys doing. 

Jessica Gazzola

Jessica is a returning THRIVE leader, whom strives to provide campus outreach for mental health and wellness initiatives through peer education. She is currently in her senior year majoring in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Education. In addition to her studies, she is also a member of the Robert Morris Women’s Ice Hockey team. Jessica is also a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and the Colonial Leadership Academy. Her focus this year will consist of sharing stories, raising awareness and developing resources for student-athletes and coaches. As a returning member of THRIVE, Jessica has had the rewarding experience to be able to reach out to peers in our campus community to emphasize how important mental health is. Many people have dealt with mental illness or know of someone who has. As a THRIVE leader, it is her job to help reduce the stigma against mental health. Jessica is passionate about mental health outreach and emphasizes that it's okay to ask for help no matter you are going through. 

Ashlee Groover

Ashlee is a student at Robert Morris University and is a returning member to the THRIVE program. She is extremely excited for another year of such a rewarding experience. Ashlee is a member of the Women’s Softball team, the Colonial Leadership Academy, and the International Honor Society in Psychology (Psi Chi) at Robert Morris. As a Sport Psychology major, Ashlee emphasizes first-hand how important it is to raise awareness for mental health, especially on college campuses and throughout the student-athlete community. Mental illness is not something you can always see, so as a member of THRIVE one of her goals is to work to make sure that every student is comfortable in seeking help through the Counseling Center. When Ashlee moved from San Diego, to her new home at RMU, she personally dealt with not only with transitioning from high school to college, but as well as, being far away from home. As a student-athlete, she has also faced a season-ending injury, in which had her endure adversity, along with a loss of identity as an athlete. Ashlee is a strong believer that everyone struggles in different ways and with different things, but what is most important is that everyone knows there is always someone willing to help. After graduating from RMU, Ashlee plans on obtaining her Master’s degree in Athletic Counseling and starting a career with working with collegiate athletes through their mental struggles. When she has a break from softball and her studies, she enjoys practicing self-care by going to the gym or hanging out with friends.

Kylie Sellman

Kylie is currently a junior in the undergraduate psychology program at RMU.  In the future, Kylie hopes to also obtain a Bachelor’s of nursing degree in order to work as a psychiatric nurse in a hospital setting.  Kylie is passionate about mental health outreach and education.  She believes that it is important to educate students about mental health in order to create an environment in which those who are struggling can reach out for help.  As a Thrive Leader, Kylie strives to be a friendly face on campus that fellow students can easily approach.  She thinks that it is important for us to be kind to one another.  “A simple smile can change the course of someone’s day,” she says.  Along with being a Thrive Leader, Kylie is a board member for RMU’s chapter of Active Minds, a mental health awareness club.  Through her work with Active Minds, she hopes to “stomp out the stigma” attached to mental illness and create a more caring student body.  Being a busy student, she recognizes that it is important for her to take care of herself.  Kylie practices self care by spending time with loved ones, cuddling up with a good book, or listening to her favorite bands.

Mattias Sommers

Mattias is a junior at Robert Morris who is majoring in psychology. She hopes to complete a master's or doctorate degree in clinical psychology and work in a hospital setting. She was interested in Thrive because she values mental health awareness, spreading kindness and wants to be a part of helping others and making a difference. She wants to use her background in psychology education to educate others about the important issues concerning mental health and to spread awareness, as well as use it to help others overcome their struggles. She believes it is very important for people to know that someone, even someone they've never met cares about them and is there to listen to them when they need to talk. It is important for people to know that it is okay to seek help, and through being a Thrive leader, she hopes to be someone that can give information to those struggling and help them find the care and resources that they might need. Mattias is also a member of Psi Chi on campus and volunteered for Psych in a Box her sophomore year. Mattias practices self care by surrounding herself with positive and supportive people who she can talk to, taking time to be alone and recharge when she is overwhelmed, writing, watching Netflix, relaxing by taking a bath, reading a book or even taking a nap to refresh and calm down."

For questions about the THRIVE Program, please email Diane Dahm: dahm@rmu.edu

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