The Butler Giving Circle (BGC) recently announced the selection of the Fund to Support Student Mental Health as its new priority partner, connecting the donor group with a tangible avenue to support the well-being of current Bulldogs. Established in 2019, the Butler Giving Circle is open to Butler alumni, parents, and friends who pool their annual gifts to benefit two mission-critical elements of the University’s vision for the future: community partnerships and student access and success.

“I am thrilled that the Butler Giving Circle has chosen the Fund to Support Student Mental Health as its next priority partner,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Frank E. Ross, III. “We are deeply committed to the holistic well-being of our students, and the Giving Circle’s support of this fund will be instrumental in expanding the services we can offer over the next few years to support their mental health and wellness.”

With an annual gift of $500, donors can become BGC shareholders. After shareholder funds are pooled, 40 percent of the funds are directed to the Butler Fund for Student Scholarship, 40 percent are granted to an Indianapolis community partner(s) with an existing affiliation to Butler, and 20 percent are designated to the Giving Circle’s priority partner. While shareholders vote on a new Indianapolis community partner grant each year, the priority partnership program is a three to five-year commitment, allowing shareholders to see the impact of their gifts over a longer period.

Though the University has been funding initiatives to support student mental health for years, including the excellent care provided on-campus through Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS), the Fund to Support Student Mental Health is relatively new as a specific fund donors can support. 

“I’m thankful that this fund now offers donors a very tangible way to join our efforts to support the mental health needs of our students,” Ross said. “As a result of contributions made to the Fund, we are now able to provide on-campus psychiatric services through CCS at no cost to our students. This increased access underscores our commitment to student success.”

In the past academic year, CCS provided nearly 4,000 individual therapy appointments and over 350 group therapy appointments, with overwhelmingly positive outcomes reported by students. CCS also introduced an animal-assisted therapy program, and 100 percent of student participants report that engaging with therapy dogs improved their day. In addition, CCS has increased campus trainings and outreach programs, including a student of color support group in conjunction with the Efroymson Diversity Center, and support for neurodivergent students and Butler student-athletes. Additionally, CCS has added the UNWIND relaxation room, which provides mindfulness activities, light therapy, and chair massage options for students.

Ross says the Fund to Support Student Mental Health has also made a great impact through access to new technology that is being widely used by Butler students. So far, the Fund has supported virtual mental health and wellness services, and in the past academic year, Butler students have utilized over 400 visits. Additionally, the Fund supports free subscriptions to the Calm app, which provides research-based tools to help users manage stress and support their mental health. 83 percent of Butler students who have downloaded the Calm app use it with many using it for meditation and sleep support.

Ross says through BU|BeWell, Butler will continue to offer innovative strategies to support the well-being of our students. His long-term goal is to increase staffing to support students’ mental health, including providing wellness coaches for all students at Butler. He also envisions having counselors embedded in the residence halls with students who would provide one-on-one counseling and also offer programming based on the needs they observe among the students. For instance, counselors might lead a workshop addressing homesickness if they recognize students struggling in this area. 

“Currently, there is an incredible unmet need and outcry for mental and behavioral health services in our society. University campuses, students, and Butler are not exempt,” said Mary Shaw ʼ93, a member of the BGC Executive Committee who helped establish the new partnership. “Through a BGC Priority Partnership, hopefully we can play a small role in changing the conversation and actions surrounding mental and behavioral health on Butler’s campus and our society.”

Learn more about how to become a Butler Giving Circle shareholder here or make a gift directly to the Fund to Support Student Mental Health here.