0 Houghton students petting dog during Pet Day.

Houghton Receives Health Equity Innovation Award

December 11, 2023

By Kandis Fuller, APR

Houghton University recently received a 2023 Health Equity Innovation Award from Univera Healthcare to provide on-campus mental health and wellness activities for its students.

A small private Christian-centered, liberal arts university located in rural northern Allegany County, Houghton University is taking a proactive approach to help provide mental health resources that are not available outside the university to their more than 1,000 students.

The grant will fund wellness and mental health support programs through the University’s Center for Student Success that includes training peer mentors and advocates to understand the mental health needs of students, Wellness Wednesday initiatives, such as Mums and Meditating, and educational workshops like anxiety and sleep hygiene.

This funding helps our students directly through enhanced and extended programming to address the realities of an ever-growing mental health crisis in our society. But, more importantly, this funding helps our larger Western New York community. When people have developed the skills and resources to manage the stressful realities of life well, they are more productive students, workers, community members and contributors in our society. Houghton University recognizes that this funding is crucial to the health and wellbeing of our students and we are grateful for the generosity of Univera Healthcare.

Bill Burrichter, Ph.D, Vice President for Student Life
Graphic badge, 2023 Health Equity Innovation Awards, Univera Healthcare.

At Houghton University, 40% of the students are Pell eligible, a federal subsidy for financially challenged undergraduates. Statistics show that people who struggle with mental health come from impoverished backgrounds. So, there is a pressing need to provide the necessary resources.*

A success story: Breaking barriers by overcoming mental health challenges

Dr. Burrichter shared that early in the semester, a student was struggling with being away from home, managing her mental health issues, and meeting new people.

“She didn’t think she would make it to the end. She attended one of the Wellness Wednesday sessions and returned the following week,” he explained. “From there, she began building her confidence and started to slowly build relationships. She also learned strategies to help her cope with her stress and anxiety.”

Because of the impact the services had on the student, she is looking forward to returning next semester and is already thinking about the courses she will be taking.

“This would not have been possible without the mental health programs in place at Houghton University,” Dr. Burrichter said.

More on the Health Equity Innovation Awards

Univera Healthcare’s Health Equity Innovation Awards represent more than $112,000 in financial support the nonprofit health insurer is providing to community programs that address racial and ethnic health disparities across the Western New York region.

For more information visit Univera Healthcare announces 2023 Health Equity Innovation Awards Recipients | News | Univera Healthcare.

* Sources:

  • Morales, D.A., Barksdale, C.L., Beckel-Mitchener, A.C. (2020). A call to action to address rural mental health disparities. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science 4(5) 463-467.  doi: 10.1017/cts.2020.42
  • Knifton, L. & Inglis, G. (2020) Poverty and mental health: policy, practice and research implications. BJPsych Bulletin 44 (5) 193-196.    https://doi.org/10.1192/bjb.2020.78
  • Acri, M.C., Bornheimer, L.A., Jessell, L., Chromancuzuk, A.H., Adler, J.G., Gopalan, G., and McKay, M.M. (2017) The intersection of extreme poverty and familial mental health in the United States. Social Work Mental Health 15(6) 677-689. doi: 10.1080/15332985.2017.1319893