CCO: Supporting Students During Mental Health Awareness Month

“I struggled in silence, feeling overwhelmed by all of my thoughts…When Jesus showed up, He changed everything…”

May 17, 2021

PITTSBURGH —Inobservance of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO, sharesthe inspiring account of MollyKate Kline, a college student attending Columbus College of Art and Design, who, after suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts following her father’s suicide, found a way forward through healing and hope in Christ Jesus. Her story of tragedy followed by transformation offers hope for those facing the challenge of living with a mental illness.

MollyKate describes receiving therapy, a diagnosis and treatment. She then found that “a light began to shine ever brighter into the darkness of my depression, and a still small voice that said, ‘I have a plan for you, but I need you to be around to see it. I promise I make life worth living.’ This began to change my heart, my mind, my entire life. When Jesus showed up, he changed everything.”

“Attending college can be a stressful time for many students,” says Dan Dupee, former chairman of the board for Coalition for Christian Outreach. “In addition to coping with academic pressure, some students have to deal with the stress of separation from their family. In this context, many college students experience the first onset of mental health and substance abuse problems or an exacerbation of their symptoms.”

CCO offers college students a vital support network so they are not alone. By partnering with local church congregations, they help students feel a sense of belonging. A community is formed between the CCO staff and students, who are invited into the lives of local congregations. Through this community of fellowship, CCO is able to minister to the students in a life-changing way.

After attending CCO’s Jubilee conference, MollyKate was inspired to create a distinctive biblically-themed clothing line that was then accepted into New York fashion week, where she unexpectedly found herself able to share the big story of scripture with a New York audience. “And then I remembered something. He had a plan for me, and it’s only just begun.”

Some Sobering Mental Health Statistics:

  • The number of college students seeking mental health treatment vastly outpaces enrollment growth. A 2015 survey from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University revealed that 20 percent of college students seeking mental health treatment were taking up half of the appointments at campus counseling centers.
  • The demand for mental health care is made worse by the pandemic. According to an article cited on the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) website, entitled, The growing mental health effects of COVID-19 for Young Adults, “The pandemic, school closures, and social isolation are all taking a serious toll on the lives of high school and college students.”
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers these statistics:
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 

MollyKate came to a beautiful realization following her involvement with CCO:“I was beginning a journey of restoration that reached into every corner of my being. I found my purpose and my identity in Him. I was a new creation, and in this new outlook began to find its way into all of my creative endeavors.”

CCO staff and students form a bond within their community which makes it easier to watch out for one another. For students who may be affected by mental health issues, particularly in these times of the pandemic, “It is important to let people know about the resources available to help them if they need mental health support,” says Dupee.

And, regardless of our mental health status, we can all use some words of encouragement: Says MollyKate, “God has given you a gift…even if you don’t know what that is yet. With that gift, God has a plan for you. This is the message that could change your life, but you have to be here to see it.”

For 50 years,CCO staff have reached out to college students by entering into their world. They are on the college campus daily—at athletic practices, in cafeterias, student centers, coffee shops, residence halls, and sometimes even classrooms. CCO staff meets students where they are.

The college and university campus are the most strategic mission fields in the world, with only 2% of students being reached with the Gospel. CCO partners with local church congregations to help students feel a sense of belonging. A community is formed between the CCO staff and students, who are invited into the lives of local congregations. Through this community of fellowship, CCO is able to minister to the students in a life-changing way.


To interview Dan Dupee or for more information about the Coalition for Christian Outreach, contact, Marjorie Pratt, 610.584.1096, ext. 107, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.