This spring semester, Dorothy Espelage, William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Education, and school psychology doctoral student Anne Drescher led a class of Carolina undergraduates in a course titled “Sources of Strength,” a first-of-its-kind course at UNC-Chapel Hill aimed at promoting mental health and preventing suicide on campus.
The course — made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Triad Foundation and awarded by Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz — draws from Sources of Strength, a best practices youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture. In class, Espelage and Drescher have introduced research on mental health from a number of fields and provided students a place to explore varying facets of mental health in their individual and collective lives. They hope to one day offer the course to every first-year student at Carolina.
As part of the course, students have also launched a University-recognized club, engaging with fellow students at on-campus events and planning advocacy campaigns to make Carolina a healthier campus. Ashlen Wright, president of the Sources of Strength club and a junior studying Human Development and Family Studies, reflects on why she signed up for the course, how the semester has gone, and what she hopes for future Carolina students.