Schools and Colleges

Thrive designs enjoyable, evidence-based programs that improve student 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

The Problem

If you’re concerned about how to address students’ mental health needs and meet the increasing demand for services, 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 concerns undermine the academic mission of schools and colleges by impairing cognitive functioning, reducing achievement, and contributing to students' decisions to take time off, or leave college 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 and help them develop the skills to navigate challenges and sustain positive mental health. We use evidence-based practices that protect against anxiety and depression, improve academic performance, and increase retention.


Resiliency Skills Training (ReST)

ReST is a 4-week resiliency-building program that has been shown to significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve well-being.

ReST actively engages participants in improving their well-being by offering a weekly menu of wellness activities in the areas of goal-setting, emotional skills, social connection, health, meaning and purpose, and self-talk. Participants select the exercises that are most appealing and relevant to them and practice them over the course of the week. Student and staff participants report that they enjoy the activities, see immediate results, and learn concrete tools to use in the future.

You may download a free Facilitator’s Guide that has detailed outlines for a 4-session ReST workshop series or group. The guide also includes instructions on how to implement ReST as a campus-wide online program, which can reach large numbers of students, staff and faculty. The ReST program uses Four Weeks to Wellness as a companion workbook. Individual copies can be found on Amazon, while orders of 35 or more may be purchased directly at a discounted rate. You may request a “train the trainers” workshop from Jessica Gifford,, 413-548-4688.

"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 program designed to help students clarify what is important to them, and 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 them identify future goals, connect to a sense of purpose, prioritize how they use their time, and persist through challenges. SSI focuses on two crucial, high impact areas: cultivating mindsets that support success, and developing a core set of skills to follow-through on difficult goals. Students enjoy the exercises, while the structure of the program provides the scaffolding to make incremental shifts in attitude and behavior that have a cumulative impact over time.

SSI is most effective when it is offered for credit, or is incorporated into an existing first year seminar, student success course, or other class. The program uses the companion Journal to Success workbook. For more details on how to implement SSI on your campus, please contact Jessica Gifford,, 413-548-4688.

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

Journal to Success

Journal to Success offers a careful selection of reflective writing exercises that provide step-by-step guidance to help students identify, prioritize, and accomplish what matters most to them. Each exercise is backed by research and has demonstrated effectiveness in helping students overcome challenges, increase productivity, and successfully achieve their goals. The sequence of the twenty-one exercises helps students gradually build confidence and resilience over time. The exercises are enjoyable, and take less than fifteen minutes each to complete, making them easy to fit into busy schedules.

Journal to success is the companion workbook for the Student Success Initiative program. Orders of 35 or more copies may be purchased at a discounted rate by emailing Jessica Gifford,

“This course helped me organize my thoughts and figure out how I want to spend my time. I think I was way more focused in my classes than I would have been otherwise, and made progress on a project I’d been procrastinating on.”
- 2018 Student Success Initiative Participant

Speaking and Consultation

Jessica offers talks, training, and consultation on how to implement evidence-based strategies to promote positive mental health and well-being. Her areas of expertise include the following topics:

Building Grit and Resiliency
Grit is a major predictor of personal and professional success, helping us persist toward important goals in the face of obstacles, while resilience helps us recover from difficulties and is vital to positive mental health. Jessica is steeped in the current research and provides concrete, easy-to-use strategies to develop grit and resiliency and promote thriving.

Building Social Connection and Creating a Culture of Belonging
Social connection and belonging are central to the health and vitality of individual students and the campus community as a whole. Jessica outlines the impact of belonging and social connection on student mental health, academic performance, and retention. She offers specific, evidence-based approaches to strengthen social ties, build community, and increase belonging and inclusion.

Innovative Approaches to Student Mental Health:
At a time when many campuses are struggling to meet students' mental health needs, it is important to explore innovative, large-scale approaches. Jessica is immersed in developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based preventative strategies to improve mental health, and can help you determine what would be effective on your campus and develop an implementation plan.