Jennifer Mallo is School Health's product manager for the majority of our school nursing product categories. But her health expertise doesn't end there - Jennifer is also a Certified Health Education Specialist and recently earned her Master of Public Health degree with the help of School Health's employee tuition reimbursement program. As a part of her internship, Jennifer created the Health Education Resources page for Benedictine University. She took the time to answer 7 questions about this project and her dedication to decreasing suicide in young adults.
Can you describe the project you did for Benedictine University?
My internship Capstone project title was "Mental Health: It’s ok to talk about it." According to the American College Health Association (ACHA) the suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students. In order to break the stigma associated with mental illness and decrease suicide, our society as a whole must recognize its signs and symptoms. Unless these issues are discussed, the rate of suicide and mental illness will continue to rise.
Who is the intended audience for the website?
Students and staff of Benedictine University.
Where did you get the resources for the website?
Really…everywhere – NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), CDC (Centers for Disease and Control), Healthy People 2010, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse, DANA Foundation, and Mental Health Services Administration to name a few. As a Health Educator I do my best to review and recommend only those sites considered to be reputable resources.
How long did it take to create?
Because of the significance of the topic, it took me 2 quarters or 6 months to complete. My projects were not limited to building resource pages. Other activities included:
Open forum discussion on Mental Health with student leadership groups and campus RA’s
A weekend seminar on Mental Health
Arrangement and hosting of guest speakers for students and student organizations such as the psych & soc club; guest speakers included National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Developed the BenU Health Education Web Pages
Proposed a new course for BenU - MHFA and it has now been approved - I will additionally be assisting with the marketing of the course sometime this year
Reviewed the campus Emergency Preparedness Plan to assure it properly addressed suicide and mental health emergencies
Assisted in the introduction of NAMI on Campus – a student run support organization geared towards college success and supporting those with mental health issues or are just having difficulty adjusting to college life
Who from the university did you work with to complete the project?
I was a one man show under the guidance of Marco Masini, Associate VP of Student Life. I did receive assistance, however from one of my former teachers, Joe Roche, the President of the Psych & Soc Student Organization, the IT department for web training and several other key support staff who allowed me to interview them and who provided support of my activities.
What is the purpose of the website?
The pages serve as a resource for students on and off campus on a variety of health topics. With so much information on the web today, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed searching for useful and credible information. It was my goal to bring everything to one location where students and staff could locate important health information in just a few clicks.
What other pertinent information would you like to share about this project?
This is a tough one. My internship laid the groundwork for addressing mental illness and suicide on campus, but I won’t know how effectively until at least a year or more from now. I can tell you that there are quite a few programs now getting started at BenU discussing the topic and getting students more involved which is a great start. Other than that, I can just say that it was a great experience and I feel I truly used the tools I gained from my MPH program to educate and involve others in changing behaviors that limit personal growth, improving scholastic achievement, and creating awareness surrounding the stigma that is Mental Illness – because it is ok to talk about it.
Thank you to Jennifer Mallo for creating this site for the students of Benedictine University and bringing much-needed awareness to this important topic. Jennifer selected her favorite health education resources on the School Health website, and we look forward to the new products she brings to our catalog to come!
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