Bellus Academy Launches Student Assistance Program to Support Mental Health and Help Students Navigate Life and Work Challenges
Interview with Lynelle Lynch, President and Owner, Bellus Academy
As mental-health issues ranging from stress, depression and anxiety to crisis situations continue to rise on U.S. college campuses, Bellus Academy is launching a Student Assistance Program at its California and Kansas academies. In partnership with Morneau Shepell, a leading provider of technology-enabled human resources services, the Bellus Academy Student Assistance Program provides 24-hour, 7-days a week telephone and web access along with face-to-face counseling sessions for Bellus Academy students.
The program was inspired by Lynelle Lynch, owner of Bellus Academy. “We realized we had an assistance program for our employees, but no such resource existed for students,” Lynch said.
“This program is all about helping the student address a concern before it becomes a crisis that preempts a student’s education and ultimately achieving their career goal.”
The confidential support services are provided at no cost and can help students address a range of emotional and relational challenges including stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and support for child/elder care. The program also provides tools to strengthen relationships and improve communication and work toward life goals.
In this interview Lynelle Lynch discusses the Bellus Academy Student Assistance Program.
CER: What was the impetus for creating the Bellus Academy Student Assistance Program (SAP)?
Lynelle Lynch: Bellus Academy Directors and Student Services team members noticed personal challenges were preventing some students from coming to school. Students were dropping their program due to anxiety and other personal challenges as opposed to more typical reasons such as health, family or finances. One student was struggling with suicidal thoughts and another student’s significant other committed suicide. Sadly, this situation is not unique among young people in America, in California and in our student body and we are seeing more incidents of stress as well as psychological/mental health in our student body.
CER: How did you find a provider?
Lynelle Lynch: Bellus Academy has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides confidential counseling to support employees experiencing a variety of personal challenges. We sought to adapt this benefit for our students. The broker did the heavy lifting, acting as a liaison with the service provider.
CER: How does the Student Assistance Program work?
Lynelle Lynch: The Student Assistance Program at Bellus Academy is similar to what an EAP offers employees. The program offers online and toll-free dial access, connecting users to qualified support services. Following notification, qualified professionals supporting the SAP determine the needs of the individual and provide information, resources and referrals to a therapist as appropriate for up to three sessions.
CER: Is the SAP compliant with FERPA and HIPPA?
Lynelle Lynch: Yes, the program complies with both requirements.
CER: The SAP is provided at no cost to the student. Does the school subsidize the program?
Lynelle Lynch: Very similar to our employee EPA program Bellus Academy is charged a monthly fee per student per month for the service. The service is offered as a complementary benefit to Bellus Academy students.
CER: In the past there has been a stigma associated with metal health. How do you address this stigma?
Lynelle Lynch: Bellus Academy provides the service as a resource and offers anonymous access. We want to help our students and realize that providing resources to help students access the help needed is just ‘the right thing to do.’ I think the stigma wall has been broken down in San Diego.
Our community has brought mental health to the forefront via very front and forward community discussions such as the It’s Up to Us campaign.
This campaign is designed to empower San Diegans to talk openly about mental illness, recognize symptoms, utilize local resources and seek help. The Bellus Academy mentions the SAP in our weekly student assemblies to keep the information and services top of mind. We never know when someone will need the services, so it’s important to remind students of this benefit. This approach is similar to how we regularly update students on CUT IT OUT – a program that offers support for those affected by domestic abuse. We regularly talk about the program and its confidential 800 number.
CER: In addition to orientation, what other ways are you implementing the program?
Lynelle Lynch: The service provider [Morneau-Sheppell] created a great 10-minute video that describes the program, who it is and isn’t for, the types of information/resources/services available and how to access the services. The video is shown in every new student orientation program. The resources and how-to-access information slide is also included in our weekly ‘Student Huddles’ as a reminder the program is accessible as needed. Additionally, the Academy Directors and Student Services team members have the information sheets available and have posted those sheets on student information bulletin boards at all campuses.
CER: Have you encountered any obstacles?
Lynelle Lynch: We have not encountered any obstacles. The Student Assistance Program was very quickly implemented and took about one month from idea conception through vetting to implementation. The process has been smooth. Teamwork makes the dream work!
CER: What has been the response of students? Of educators?
Lynelle Lynch: Educators, Student Services and Academy Directors have responded positively to the addition of this resource. The few students I have personally talked to are exceptionally grateful that we have listened to their concerns for support and are offering a service at no additional cost.
CER: How will you evaluate the success of this program?
Lynelle Lynch: Privacy is important. Since the service provider gives us only a raw utilization number by general type of issue, we will know how many students have contacted the provider, but we will not know the outcomes or who the students are. Our belief is that the SAP program will support the “quiet” student issues that have caused students to drop and stop their dream career training. Our goal is to graduate all of our students into the amazing entrepreneurial careers in beauty and wellness and support them with confidence and courage to be their best.
CER: Is there any advice you’d offer to other institutions considering a student assistance program?
Lynelle Lynch: If you do not have on-site counselors or a comprehensive student resource center, a Student Assistance Program is an easily implemented option to provide student support.
LYNELLE LYNCH accepted the challenge of reimagining beauty and wellness education in 2005 when she became president and owner of Bellus Academy.
Recognizing that professional development is a lifelong adventure, she led the development of advanced education programs. Bellus Academy’s educators continually strive to push their creative boundaries and routinely place in the world’s most prestigious industry competitions. In addition, Bellus Academy students learn not just the art and science of cosmetology and related programs, but also vital business skills, including personal finance and marketing.
As a leader, Lynelle models a philosophy that is simultaneously competitive and humanitarian. In 2015, she accepted the international Intercoiffure Mondial Award, recognizing Bellus Academy as the top academy in North America. Bellus Academy also received the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) “Gold” Award for Excellence in Community Service in March 2017, and the North San Diego Business Chamber named Lynelle the Business Leader of the Year in June 2017.
However, she is particularly proud of the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation that she founded in 2009. Since becoming a 501(c)(3), the foundation has raised millions of dollars and awarded thousands of scholarships for individuals pursuing careers in hairstyling, esthetics, massage therapy, professional nails, makeup and barbering. She has also engaged some of the world’s most esteemed beauty brands in supporting NextGen talent.
Lynelle currently serves on seven boards, including the Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) Board of Directors.
Contact Information: Lynelle Lynch // President and Owner, Bellus Academy // 858-525-2210 // firstname.lastname@example.org // www.bellusacademy.edu // https://www.facebook.com/bellusacademy/; https://twitter.com/BellusAcademy; https://www.pinterest.com/bellusacademy/; https://www.instagram.com/bellusacademy/ // Media Contact: Susan Miller, email@example.com, 765-620-2007