Following the 2022 University-wide strike at The New School (TNS), my research had identified a lack of a sense of community within schools. While certain universities setup support services to enable care for students, in the form of emergency hotlines, individual and group counseling, psychiatric services, alcohol and substance abuse support and so on, research showed that not a lot of students found comfort or time to attend such programs. At TNS, the strike came as a spark, looking to bring in support for not just students, but also for enablers of education and drivers of the organization.
The New School is known for its existing infrastructure to support PM+ training and delivery to address the issue at hand. Problem Management Plus is a task-sharing mental health intervention that the World Health Organization developed to help individuals facing adversity and experiencing depression, anxiety or stress improve their psychological well-being.
A mental health program shared by WHO, PM+ shares psychological help for adults impaired by distress in communities exposed to adversity. This project dug deeper into the adversity at Schools as a whole.
After evaluating the evolution of the educational ecosystem at The New School following the strike, I believed that students, enablers and drivers, in fact needed mental health support, first and foremost.
Feb 2023 - Apr 2023
Group PM+ at The New School
a mental health intervention proposal
For starters, the intervention aims to work with students at The New School, from ages 18 and beyond.
On evaluating the results of Group PM+ with students, the program could evolve to work with enablers and drivers as well.
As per records, TNS has a large and diverse student body, comprising over 10,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students
(as of the 2021 census, this included 7,632 undergraduate and 3,183 graduate degree-seeking students)
Students often underestimate the extent to which they struggle to navigate the different fronts of life when they first arrive at school. With the challenges of University Life, students need to cultivate the skills, in the form of a “toolbox” to sustain a healthy quality of life.
PM+ and Group PM+ are known to identify and acquire the necessary skills and autonomy to spur long-term improvement in their lives. Because of the program’s adaptability, the skills introduced in PM+ can be modified to meet the unique daily needs and challenges of New School students.
The program can also help this population feel more in control of their own lives, as well as more “responsible,” which can be a virtue in and of itself.
The intervention design explained the planning and research, cultural adaptations needed, the implementation strategy and program assessment strategy.