By Haydn Elmore | February 14, 2023
Middle Earth, the peer assistance program that helps students with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, has seen a 6.5% increase in its annual budget, and an increase in student membership this year.
Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program Logo
Photo Credit: MyInvolvement
According to the budget, Middle Earth received a total funding of $83,133, up from $78,093 last year.
Megan Cusick Brix, the Faculty Advisor for the program, said the SA budget online shows an incorrect $86,893 because of a mathematical error that calculated a $3,000 line item twice.
“The budget proposal we gave looks a little bit different from what’s on the SA website,” Brix said. “Our budget is similar to the one for 2021-22, where there are lines for our training and outreach program, and those lines go to events like gender and sexuality month, and our annual mental health fair we host every year. So all of the money we have within our budget goes into the same events we pour into every year.”
Middle Earth has been noticing an increase in college students' levels of distress, anxiety, and depression within the last 10 years, particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic, when many students were faced with stress and isolation.
“It just reemphasizes to us the importance of providing support to students, and having those resources for students to connect with,” Brix said. “We have continued to be very interactive and proactive with getting out to the campus community.”
In addition to seeing an increase in levels of mental health struggles amongst college students, Middle Earth has also seen the number of student members increase to pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re seeing an uptick in student members,” Tamia Wellington, president of Middle Earth, said. “We’re back to having 100 members and the number of student members is the same as they were pre-pandemic.”
Wellington added that the number of applications by students to work for Middle Earth has increased to record levels, giving the organization the opportunity to expand its outreach beyond campus. In the first semester, applicants attend different peer helping courses, and in the second semester, they perform in the roles they are trained in.
According to Brix, it’s always important for the program to reach out and seek the mental health needs of a student in any spectrum.
Apart from salaries, Middle Earth’s hotline service, gender and sexuality month, and outreach program composed the largest expenses.
To learn more about the Middle Earth Peer Assistance program, visit the UAlbany Middle Earth webpage.