The Human Performance and Recreation Department is reaching out to students with mental illness through a program called THRIVE.
“It was made to help others grow and to help them become something more than their circumstances,” said Spencer Boltz, a junior studying therapeutic recreation. He has been a part of the THRIVE program since it began last November.
THRIVE is a nine-week course that runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from October 1 to November 26. It includes workshops focused on positive psychology, nutrition, physical fitness and yoga.
The program was started to help students cope with depression and anxiety, which are common among college students. According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 40% of college students stated anxiety as their top concern.
“The demand for help with mental health is growing on campus, and this is just another way to help,” Boltz said. He also said it’s cool to watch the students continue to use the program’s advice even after they finish.
The program is designed to help students improve their ability to cope with mental illness and process their emotions effectively through outdoor activities, exercise and art with the use of positive psychology.
Boltz believes the bonds and skills from the course will help students throughout their lives.
“It’s a lot of research on what makes people happy in life and flourish in life, so we take those research topics and implement them into our programming,” said Melissa Russell, a human performance and recreation professor and the THRIVE organizer.
She said that connection with other students plays a critical role in the program.
“It forms a sense of community…It’s nice for students to have somewhere to go that’s accepting,” Russell said.
The staff is comprised of thirteen students, most of whom are volunteers.
“They connect really well with students. They feel like professional peers that are really approachable,” she said.
Along with the sense of community, Russell feels religious beliefs add perspective to the activities.
“Meaning is really important because it drives purpose in our lives, and so a lot of students will get that from the gospel,” she said.
Russell hopes the program will be helpful for all students, even those without mental illness.
“Sometimes it’s just, ‘hey, I’m super stressed this semester, and I need to learn some coping skills,” she said.
The program costs $25 and students can register through the BYU-I website.