The Reflect Organization (“Reflect”) is a nonprofit dedicated to destigmatizing care for mental health and improving the mental health of students by providing them a safe forum to engage in open and honest discussion. By hosting monthly programming to which students of all years are invited, and weekly programming for freshmen only, Reflect works preventatively to help solve the college student mental health crisis.
On college campuses across the country and across the world, students burdened by social and academic pressures are living their social media profiles in real life, portraying a lens of perfection to their peers, no matter what is going on inside. This perpetuates imposter syndrome, increasing students' feelings of loneliness and isolation, ultimately harming their mental wellness. According to the American College Health Association, 60% of college students report feeling lonely.
What's needed to be preventative against feelings of isolation and loneliness is a cultural shift away from the debilitating ideal of "perfection" and towards a community enveloped in mutual connection and support. The only way we'll get there is to empower students to create that shift themselves.
We at Reflect want to change the culture by empowering students to see themselves and each other for who they really are. We strive to create a culture in which it’s cool to be you, rather than the person you think others want you to be; a culture in which students follow their passions, express their full and true selves, and feel supported by others as they do the same.
By changing campus culture, we can proactively help to solve the college student mental health crisis and keep students from become part of the 60% statistic.
WHAT CAN REFLECTIONS BRING TO MY INSTITUTION?
We have received positive feedback from those involved with the Reflections program. We have even had groups of students at Reflections request to meet multiple times each week, rather than the usual single weekly meetup. In fact, when these small groups of first-year students meet multiple times per week, with electronics away, for the sole purpose of authentic connection in a self-loving, mutually supportive fashion, Reflect observes in-process the cultural shift it aims to create.
WHY WE ARE DIFFERENT
Instead of coming onto a college campus with our own agenda, we at Reflect believe in the power of the students. Through our programs, Reflect aims to empower students to create a mutually supportive campus culture where students live authentically and feel the support of others as they do the same. If the students continually empower one another, the culture will change on campus, helping students believe that they should love and not be afraid to show who they are.
THE REFLECT EFFECT
"The Reflect Effect" is the concept that a person's open and honest reflection, as a regular part of everyday life, results in improved mental health outcomes.
WHAT HAVE STUDENTS SAID ABOUT REFLECT?
"[The dinner] was inviting and friendly... [I felt] less stressed after, like someone actually listened and validated my emotions..." –Sophomore, Queens Reflect
“This was a good, safe space to talk about issues not often brought up in daily conversation.”
-Sophomore, Columbia Reflect
"...I believe that [Reflect] creates an incredibly supportive, productive, and much-needed refuge where students ... can feel comfortable to express ... their more vulnerable sides... It has produced ... positive interactions for me because when speaking with the other students who choose the same topic and have had the same struggles on their mind, we are able to problem solve, share sympathy, and construct strategies that we have come to develop. It offers a space where I feel as though I can work together with my peers to build each other up, at a school where it so often feels as though we are working alone, or even against each other."
-Junior, Penn Reflect
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HOW DOES IT WORK?
Every month, students gather over dinner to have real discussions about whatever is on their mind. Topics for discussion have included "Stress and Pressure," "Balancing College and Life," "Relationships," and more.
By creating safe, no-pressure environments for unmasked discussion, college students are able to see how it would feel if everyone lived a life "unmasked," where they're proud to be themselves. This then inspires them to live that way on campus, shifting the tide student by student.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Reflections is a program designed to help first-
year students find an immediate and consistent network of peer support upon their arrival at college. The Reflections program fosters strong connections, helps first-year students feel cool expressing their true selves, and empowers program participants to create a campus environment in which openness,
honesty, and mutual support become the norm.
Once a week, small groups of first-year
students meet to connect openly and honestly. Discussions are facilitated by professionally trained sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Reflect guidelines are followed in order that these discussions take place in a safe, destigmatized
By engaging first-year students in the
Reflections program, this can help foster the creation of an entirely new campus culture: one in which students feel safe, supported, and proud being their true