Schools and Colleges

Thrive designs creative programs to engage students in actively improving their mental health and well-being.

"My stress levels have decreased significantly and I am able to focus much better on my work."
-2017 ReST Participant

If you’re concerned about how to address the rising mental health needs of your students, you’re not alone. A recent report issued by The Chronicle of Higher Education identified mental health as the number one concern of top administrators, and for good reason. A large percentage of the highest risk students do not receive services, either because they do not seek them out, or because schools and colleges are unable to meet the demand, and are forced to limit sessions or place students on waiting lists.

Mental health issues also undermine the academic mission of schools and colleges, by impairing cognitive functioning, undermining achievement, and contributing to students' decisions to take time off, or leave permanently. According to the National College Health Assessment, students consistently name stress as the single largest impediment to their academic performance, closely followed by anxiety, sleep problems, and depression.


Our programs offer a cost-effective method to reach large numbers of students at a time, and help them develop resiliency skills before they start to struggle. We use evidence-based practices that protect against anxiety and depression, improve academic performance, and help students persist through challenges.

Resiliency Skills Training (ReST)

We have developed a ready-to-use 4-week resiliency curriculum that has been shown to significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve well-being. You may offer ReST on your campus as a 4-session workshop or as a 4-week online program. 

ReST uses the Four Weeks to Wellness workbook to engage participants in evidence-based exercises focused on building resiliency and improving overall mental health. The workbook offers a weekly selection of six exercises in the areas of setting goals, building emotional skills, strengthening social connections, improving health, connecting to a sense of meaning and purpose, and engaging in positive self-talk. Participants choose to practice the exercises that are most appealing and relevant to them, and report that they enjoy the activities, see immediate results, and learn concrete tools to continue to use in the future. Feedback from student and staff participants has been overwhelmingly positive.

To receive a copy of the free facilitators guide, please email Jessica Gifford at This guide contains four session outlines to run ReST as a workshop series or group. There are also instructions on how to implement ReST as an online program on your campus, which has the potential to reach a much larger number of students, staff and faculty. Workbook orders of 35 or more may be purchased directly at a discounted rate. Individual copies may be ordered from Amazon.

"I used the"Four Weeks to Wellness" workbook in my summer Personal Health class. The students loved it and gave me great feedback about how the activities helped them have a more positive daily attitude. They enjoyed the activities and the flexibility to choose which ones would be best for them. I will be using the book again this semester and look forward to the discussions it generates in my classroom."
- Jen Quinn, Health Promotion Specialist, Worcester State University

"While the various activities were incredibly helpful in their own ways, the act of taking care of myself is a clear signal to myself that I'm worth something—which is incredibly powerful.”
- 2015 ReST Participant

The Student Success Initiative (SSI)

SSI is a ready-to-implement curriculum designed to help students tap into their intrinsic motivation, build skills to persist through challenges, and successfully reach their potential. Completing this curriculum has been shown to build resiliency, improve academic performance, retention, and graduation rates, and help disadvantaged students close the achievement gap.

SSI guides students through a series of twenty-one evidence-based reflective writing exercises to help help them clarify future goals, connect to a sense of purpose, prioritize how they use their time, and persist through challenges. SSI has a high impact for a low investment of time because it focuses on two crucial areas: 1) helping students let go of limiting beliefs and cultivate mindsets that support success, and 2) developing key skills, such as goal-setting and follow-through. The structure of the program provides scaffolding for students to make small shifts in attitude and behavior that have a cumulative impact over time.

SSI may be offered to students as an online course, in-person as a multi-session workshop, or integrated into an existing class such as a first year seminar. If you are interested in implementing SSI on your campus or becoming a research partner to assess its impact, please contact Jessica Gifford,, 413-548-4688.

This video may be shown in the first session of SSI to illustrate brain plasticity and normalize challenges.

Speaking Topics

Jessica offers talks and trainings in the following areas:

Building Grit and Resiliency
Grit helps us persist in the face of obstacles and is a significant predictor of personal and professional success, while resilience helps us recover from difficulties and is vital to positive mental health. This talk gives an overview of the current research, and offers concrete strategies to develop grit and resiliency skills and promote thriving.

Creating a Culture of Belonging
The experience of belonging is a crucial component of individual and community resilience. This talk provides an overview of the impact that belonging has on academic performance, retention, and mental health. The session explores ways to match efforts to create greater diversity on campus with efforts to create an environment in which students, staff and faculty of all identities and backgrounds feel safe, supported, and valued--that they belong. The session provides a model for understanding belonging, discusses factors that undermine or contribute to belonging, and offers specific strategies to increase belonging.

Innovative Approaches to Student Mental Health: exploring large-scale and environmental strategies to improve outcomes
At a time when many campuses struggle to meet students' rising mental health needs, this talk explores innovative and preventative approaches to improving student mental health. The talk will give an overview of several evidence-based strategies that have the capacity to impact large numbers of students, and will discuss how to implement these approaches on your campus.