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Building Student Connection to Improve Mental Health

Building Student Connection to Improve Mental Health

Friday, April 19, 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (EDT)


Event Details

According to the Surgeon General’s Advisory on “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” half of Americans are lonely, with Gen Z experiencing the highest rates of any age group. Worse, loneliness is a huge driver of the current mental health crisis. This session will provide an overview of current data on loneliness and its impact on mental health and offers participants concrete strategies for building student connection. Participants will learn the 6 “Ss” of connection—a framework for relationship-building—and 3 easy-to-implement exercises to facilitate connection. The session will describe an example of an evidence-based program that successfully reduces loneliness and helps students develop positive peer relationships. Participants will leave with actionable practices to build connection and subsequently improve student mental health and well-being.


Jessica Gifford
Chief Connection Creator, ProjectConnect

Jessica works with schools, colleges, and businesses to build stronger connection and community. She created the ProjectConnect program to help small groups of participants get to know each other and form positive relationships quickly. Jessica believes that connectedness can help us alleviate the current mental health crisis. Over 75 organizations have used the ProjectConnect program to build connection. 

Jessica received her master's degree from Smith College School for Social Work and began her career providing individual and group counseling. She has two decades of experience developing evidence-based wellness programs.