NSU student organization M.I.N.D. (Mental Illness New Directions), committed to reducing the stigmas associated with mental illnesses, is raising $10,000 to renovate a group room at the Henderson Behavioral Health Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
M.I.N.D. treasurer Lindsay Tracy, third-year doctoral student in clinical psychology, said the organization has raised approximately $1,000 so far. The funds were raised through a BBQ and donations sent in from the community, along with t-shirt and bake sales. The organization has also received material and service donations, including a projector screen and an interior decorator. M.I.N.D. began the fundraising project eight months ago after the organization saw the CSU group room’s need for renovation.
The CSU is one of the locations of Henderson Behavioral Health, a nonprofit mental healthcare system that serves the public. Henderson also has a location at University Park Plaza that provides individual, family and group counseling services to NSU students.
The CSU provides short-term, intensive, in-patient treatment and stabilization. Its group room is used as a support room for clients, and also serves as meeting space for classes and families. The facility’s clients, who have mental and behavioral health issues ranging from schizophrenia to dual diagnoses, are usually admitted to stay at the center anywhere from three days to two weeks.
Lindy Lotz, M.I.N.D. member coordinator and third-year doctoral student in clinical psychology, said M.I.N.D. plans on revamping the CSU group room to create a more enjoyable experience for its patients “We plan on creating separate areas within the group room that include a theater, complete with chairs and a big screen TV, a lounge, a music listening center and a pinball machine,” Lotz said. M.I.N.D. President and Co-founder Marissa Snell, thirdyear doctoral student in clinical psychology, said the renovated room will provide resources that promote positive social interactions and activities to help clients pass the time during their stay at the CSU. The student organization also hopes it will provide a more positive experience for the CSU staff.
“Henderson [does] wonderful work and provides some really exceptional services for our community,” Snell said. “The group room is used for so many things, like therapy and recreation, so that just seemed like a great place to start [giving back to the community.]”
Melissa Jourdain, third-year doctoral student in clinical psychology and vice president and co-founder of some of the executive board members of student organization M.I.N.D. From left to right: Scott Harvey, Melissa Snell, Lindy Lotz and Lindsay Tracy. M.I.N.D., said she hopes the new group room will be a positive addition to the CSU and promote positive therapeutic interactions.
Suzanne E. Higgins, director of development at Henderson Behavioral Health, said M.I.N.D. saw the need for renovating the group room to make it less of a clinical setting and a more bright and comfortable space. She said the project shows that the students understand the holistic approach to healing, which includes a healthy surrounding.
“It’s important to have M.I.N.D. assist us [in improving the facility] because we cannot do it alone,” Higgins said. “We are thrilled to partner with the group and are doing everything to assist them.”
Psychology professor William Dorfman, associate director of Clinical Training at the Center for Psychological Studies and M.I.N.D.’s faculty adviser, said the project would positively affect thousands of people. “I am very proud and impressed with [Snell’s] commitment to the cause. … [She] has taken it upon herself to change things here,” Dorfman said. “She is a wonderful citizen.”
Formed about a year ago, M.I.N.D. consists of 20 members. They speak to community groups, especially young children, to help them understand what mental illness is, to become more accepting of it, and to show that people with mental illnesses deserve the same respect as anyone else.
Snell said, “We invite people to learn the truth about mental illness and to open themselves up to gain a new understanding about this important topic that is far too often avoided.”
In addition to Henderson’s CSU room renovation project, M.I.N.D. is also working on a project to remodel the children’s playhouse at Tomorrow’s Rainbow, a Coconut Creek center for grieving children. Snell hopes to make M.I.N.D. into a national movement, with chapters at universities around the country. To become involved with M.I.N.D., email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.