Mood Lifters offers free mental health program to U-M grad students

Original article appeared on The Michigan Daily

Class of 2021 alum Camille Davre was at the top of her game in Michigan’s Cross Country team when she got injured. Soon after, she found out about Mood Lifters through a mass email from the athletic department and attended the student athlete program in women’s cross country. Davre said the program helped her through the injury and the mental consequences that followed.

“It was really hard not having that sport as an anchor in my day-to-day life,” Davre said. “I was feeling lost and needed guidance – and my experience with Mood Lifters was nothing but positive.” 

Patricia Deldin, U-M professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, recently started “Mood Lifters,” a U-M funded study in which graduate students and young professionals ages 22 to 32 can enter an effective, evidence-based mental wellness program for free. The program teaches scientifically-validated mental wellness strategies in a supportive group setting and is designed to improve participants’ mood and relationships. 

Rackham student Neema Prakash, who is studying psychology and serves as the study organizer, said the program offers a unique lens into the specific struggles and mental health issues that come up for young professionals. Prakash said she participated in the program herself four years ago and found it extremely helpful to her mental health.

“I, myself, as a grad student, struggle daily with imposter syndrome,” Prakash said. “It’s very difficult to enter a very competitive space, like graduate school, and learn to trust the people around you and learn to trust yourself. So I definitely identify a lot with the grad students I led in my groups.”

The progress of the study is monitored through weekly check-in surveys and a point system, which according to Deldin is based on the popular weight-loss program, Weight Watchers. Deldin participated in Weight Watchers many years ago and was inspired by their accessibility, affordability and consistency. 

“The first week of the program is called ‘behavioral activation,’ in which we encourage people to participate in pleasurable/meaningful activities on their own,” Deldin said. “Each activity that they complete is a point, and we want participants to receive at least five points a week.”

The program is set up in 12 weekly, one-hour group sessions. These sessions are peer-led, an aspect that Deldin said she believes leads to success. 

Read the full article at the Michigan Daily.