Jan. 27, 2020
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Gary H. Bischof, a Professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology (CECP) in the College of Education and Human Development, was recently awarded a WMU Support for Faculty Scholars Award for $2,000. The award funds a study focused on the help-seeking behaviors, attitudes, and barriers related to mental health and wellness for college students of color on Western Michigan University’s campus.
Research shows students of color have a greater risk of experiencing mental health challenges, yet are less likely to seek professional help. The study will utilize focus groups centered on various groups of students of color to gain their perspectives on how these important matters look and feel for them as students on Western’s campus. The grant affords the study to provide participants with gift cards in exchange for their time. The focus groups will be conducted by Dr. Bischof with help from three doctoral students from CECP, Adrian Hernandez and Angela Lewis, Counseling Psychology and Paul Oshefsky, Counselor Education. The knowledge gained from the study will inform trainings for faculty and professional staff to better equip them to meet the mental health and wellness needs of students of color on campus.
This study extends WMU’s involvement as one of 20 colleges and universities in the United States engaged in the Equity in Mental Health Framework (EMHF) two-year pilot project. The project involves the implementation of the ten-recommendation framework developed by The Steve Fund and the JED Foundation, two national foundations focused on college student mental health, and is a collaboration across Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Bischof was a faculty member in CECP 1999-2012 and rejoined the department faculty in fall 2019 after seven years in administrative roles at WMU as chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and Dean of the Lee Honors College. He became interested in the mental health of college students as he began his work in the honors college, and refined that focus after chairing an Honors Thesis committee focused on the topic in 2017. He has pioneered WMU’s involvement in the EMHF pilot project, along with Dr. Candy McCorkle, Vice-President, Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Dr. Suzie Nagel-Bennett, Dean of Students and Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs.