When contributing to the College of William and Mary, donors have the option to direct their funds towards mental health initiatives, among other specified categories.
According to the Department of University Development’s Regional Director of Major Gifts and Advancement Liaison to Student Affairs Gerald Bullock ’97, in the last three or four years there has been an uptick in support for mental health initiatives.
Within the last six months, there have been three new funds for mental health services: Tribe Rides Endowment, the Authentic Excellence Initiative and a Mental Health and Wellness Committee, Bullock said.
“In the last year alone, for example, we have driven major gifts from William & Mary alumni, friends and family members to support students and faculty seeking help and treatment for mental illness,” Chief Marketing Officer at the College Jake Perez said in an email.
The increase in donations for the Counseling Center has allowed it to pursue new initiatives. For example, Perez said donations have supported the Authentic Excellence Initiative — a student affairs program that encourages healthy, values-based decision making skills in all aspects of life, facilitates conversations and increases awareness of mental health-related topics.
The increase in contributions could be occurring for a number of reasons.
“A lot [of] times, people think that gifts come out of people having entirely positive experiences and some of these gifts, especially those related to health and wellness, come from parents and alumni who want to makes sure that we have good resources for students,” Director of Parent and Family Giving Stacey Summerfield ’04 said. “They’re really trying, if at all possible, to make things better for the next generation.”
Chris Papas ’15, is doing his best to contribute to the Counseling Center as well. He is starting an initiative to get seniors to donate their class gift specifically to the Counseling Center.
“Mental health is very important to this class for a lot of different reasons and we’re not just going to stand by idly — we’re going to try and make a difference.” Papas said. “Hopefully this ends up being part of the Class of 2015’s legacy.”
Right now, he is encouraging seniors to contribute to the Counseling Center through a word-of-mouth campaign.
“The Counseling Center doesn’t really appear as a standard giving option,” Papas said. “If you go to any of the giving pages it doesn’t pop up as one of the automatic giving funds.”
This confusing organization could be wrongly perceived, he said
“I do think that the school cares, but the organization seems like an oversight,” Papas said. “The way that it ends up working out sometimes makes it appear that they [the administration] don’t care, even though that’s not actually the truth. Which is why we as students want to make sure that we make clear that this is an important matter to us.”