The Medical University of South Carolina and Blackbaud Collaborate to Bring Preventive Behavioral Health Programs to K-12 Students in Six Counties
Digital education curricula delivered by Blackbaud will focus on critical issues like mental health, compassion and underage drinking and vaping prevention
Charleston, SC, July 10, 2023 – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has announced a new collaboration with Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) to deploy digital education programs focused on preventive behavioral health for K-12 students. In coordination with EVERFI from Blackbaud, the company’s social impact division, these courses will be activated in approximately 70 schools in Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties. Activation includes teacher training and classroom launches for participating schools.
According to the 2022 Kids Count Data Book, 12% of children in South Carolina reported experiencing depression or anxiety in 2020, a 55% increase from 2016, with suicide rates among those ages 10-24 continuing to rise. Additionally, substance use in teens has been a growing concern in South Carolina, with drug overdose deaths rising annually. More than 8% of kids ages 12-17 consume an alcoholic beverage each month, and nearly 14% of kids in that age range used illicit drugs in 2021.
“An enormous wave of behavioral and mental health needs for our most vulnerable population, our children, was already headed our way prior to 2020, thanks to numerous factors, not the least of which is constant access to social media and increased rates of suicide and substance use,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “Since the pandemic, that wave has turned into a tsunami. We must find innovative, real-time solutions that enable our communities to get upstream of this crisis. At MUSC, our mission is to preserve and optimize life for South Carolinians through our expertise in education, research and patient care; through this effort, we’re going to combine resources with Blackbaud’s EVERFI team and support the ongoing work of the school districts to start having more of an impact now in some of the areas of greatest need in our state.”
The preventive behavioral health courses will provide critical education to students from elementary school through high school. For the youngest learners, The Compassion Project helps educators to teach elementary school students in grades two through five the complex but critical social-emotional skill of compassion through the development of the understanding of self, social awareness and relationship skills.
“Preventive courses like the ones MUSC is helping bring to our school district support the efforts we already have underway by reinforcing state standards for health education, reinforcing district initiatives to prevent and reduce substance abuse, and provide parent engagement opportunities to share educational information related to substance abuse,” said Holly Kut, M.Ed., Instructional Specialist for Health and PE, Charleston County School District. “Additionally, the value of using evidence-based strategies allows students to gain content and knowledge from multiple resources, explore information relevant to the student population, and develop skills that improve students’ overall health. This sort of offering that utilizes evidence-based strategies allows schools the ability to choose programs that best meet the needs of their student population.”
Developed for students in grades eight through twelve, Understanding Mental Wellness introduces them to mental health and how they can implement coping strategies to manage their own challenging thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Students will learn how to support friends and family who may be struggling, recognize when to seek help and access appropriate resources to do so.
As research has shown that mental health problems in youth are also often associated with other health and behavioral risks, the MUSC program will also provide students access to AlcoholEDU: Underage Drinking Prevention and Vaping: Know the truth. Designed to prevent teenage drinking, AlcoholEDU has been proven to reduce negative consequences associated with underage drinking. The course is intended for students in grades nine through twelve and incorporates evidence-based prevention methods and empowers students to make safer and healthier decisions about alcohol.
Created through EVERFI’s work with Truth Initiative and Kaiser Permanente, and in collaboration with the American Heart Association, Vaping: Know the truth is a prevention-forward digital learning experience that provides core knowledge around the dangers associated with using e-cigarettes and offers resources to help young people to quit if they already vape.
“We have a long and successful history of working with MUSC, and we are excited to be expanding our work with them to bring this much-needed education to students in six of the counties surrounding MUSC’s Charleston campus and Blackbaud’s headquarters,” said Blackbaud CEO Mike Gianoni. “This program provides the opportunity to position South Carolina as a leader in offering necessary behavioral health education to students, removing the stigma, and empowering our youth to take control of their health. Being able to offer this program with a trusted strategic partner like MUSC, which has a deep understanding of how these types of programs can give kids, educators and parents an opening to having hard conversations around these critical issues, could change lives.”
As South Carolina’s premier biomedical research institution, MUSC’s efforts will also include applicable research components. In coordination with EVERFI’s team, MUSC will conduct exploratory research with a focus on the three high school-level programs. This research will lay a solid foundation for potential future studies by revealing the usage patterns and impacts of the courses on students in an effort to understand the overall impacts, including what students benefit the most from having taken the courses, what attitudes and behaviors improve through course completion and the specific effects on students as a result of taking multiple behavioral health courses.
Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the leading software provider exclusively dedicated to powering social impact. Serving the nonprofit and education sectors, companies committed to social responsibility and individual change makers, Blackbaud’s essential software is built to accelerate impact in fundraising, nonprofit financial management, digital giving, grantmaking, corporate social responsibility and education management. With millions of users and $100 billion donated, granted, and invested through its platforms every year, Blackbaud’s solutions are unleashing the potential of the people and organizations who change the world. Blackbaud has been named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Most Responsible Companies, Quartz’s list of Best Companies for Remote Workers, and Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers. A remote-first company, Blackbaud has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, supporting users in 100+ countries. Learn more at www.blackbaud.com or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn , Instagram and Facebook.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,200 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 900 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $298 million in research funds in fiscal year 2022, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 16 hospitals (includes owned and affiliated), with approximately 2,700 beds and four additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites and connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2022, for the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC has a total enterprise annual operating budget of $5.1 billion. The nearly 26,000 MUSC family members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.
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