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College of Social Work


A Bridge to Donations

Feb. 6, 2019
Chris Woodley cwoodley@mailbox.sc.edu 

According to Mental Health America’s, The State of Mental Health in America 2018, 18 percent of adults, or more than 43 million Americans, have a mental health condition. The College of Social Work offers field placements at mental health facilities, and five Bachelor of Social Work students are working together to make life easier for their clients.

BSW students Avery Behling, Brandy Bussing, Ashtyn Frederick, Alecia Grant and Sabrina Hilgert are completing their field placement at Bridges Clubhouse in Cayce, S.C. The facility is a mental health day treatment program for adults diagnosed with mental illness, and the three students wanted to expand an existing donation program.

“We have a big closet for donations of clothes and a few random hygiene products, but we said, ‘What if we ask our school to help donate more specific donations,’” said Bussing. “As a result, we agreed that we could do a donation drive and use the donated items to create a store where clients can get items as needed and even use the store to practice purchasing items and simple math skills with fake money.”

One of the donated items needed are journals, which have become an effective tool for improving mental health.

“Some of our clients have journals, and we have found that having them write their thoughts is very helpful,” said Grant. “Most people we work with do not have access to journals outside of Bridges.”

The students’ initiative and contributions have made an impression on their field instructor Paris Lockhart.

“They have been a great team, and we are going to miss them after this semester,” said Lockhart. “No one day is the same at Bridges, and we have a lot going on at all hours. They have been flexible, learned a lot and the initiative they have taken has been awesome to watch. The students have also been hands-on with the clients, where others may be apprehensive.

Everyone agreed the best part of their field placement at Bridges is the client interaction.

“It’s great to watch our clients set goals, master a skill and succeed,” said Frederick. “We can actually see the impact that we are making. Whether it’s group therapy, handling de-escalation, or adapting to new things, you really learn to base the interventions on the individual client you are serving.”

Working at Bridges and the overall experience has been enjoyable for each student.   

“I had never worked with adults before, but I have thoroughly enjoyed working at Bridges,” said Bussing. “It has been the best experience in the College of Social Work.”

“I have experience with mental health, so I did not think I would get placed with this population again,” said Grant. “It is not a population I thought I would want to work with, but after working at Bridges, I definitely would not be opposed to working within the mental health field.”

Two donation boxes, which were decorated by Bridges Clubhouse clients, are in Hamilton College for the remainder of February. The boxes are located next to Room 226 and across from Room 124. Donation items needed are:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Bars of soap
  • Body wash
  • Face wipes
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Journals