News Page


SCoRE! RMU Helps Students Build Confidence, Avoid Depression

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pittsburgh -- Leading Education and Awareness for Depression (LEAD) Pittsburgh has teamed up with RMU to implement a curriculum that helps college-age students in Pittsburgh cope with stress, and Robert Morris student Elizabeth Matisko won an essay contest sponsored by the organization about resiliency. The contest earned Matisko $2,500.

“LEAD Pittsburgh is an organization that focuses on depression issues. A few years ago, they looked at the college-aged students and devised a way to help them deal with these mental health issues,” said Randon Willard, RMU Crisis Counselor and Resiliency Trainer.

To college students, resiliency is the act of “bouncing back” when faced with adversity or stress. It helps one become successful when coping with stress, change or challenges.

The Southwestern Psychological Association has found that 20 percent of college students seek help for anxiety or depression. Mental health and wellness must be addressed in both a physical and psychological aspect.

To do this, the Communication, Cooperation, and Confidence Institute for Social Development wrote the Student Curriculum on Resiliency Education (SCoRE). The purpose of the test is to find key factors that college students need to be successful.

Matisko, a freshman nuclear medicine technology major, used the SCoRE curriculum to break her essay down into three sections. Her award-winning essay was about her resiliency when dealing with relationships with college students, family and friends, her stress and how she copes, and what her goals are and how she plans to attain them.

"Because I’m a freshman and college is a really new environment for me, the SCoRE program helped show me how to deal with stress and relationships and everything that college puts on you at once,” said Matikso.

The SCoRE curriculum was developed around four units. First, it informs students about what resiliency is and how each individual is personally resilient. Second, it addresses daily events that cause stress and how to cope with them. In this unit, it gives factors and resources to use that help build resiliency, such as learning to think better.

“If people have negative thoughts, it’s going to hold them back,” said Willard. “If I think, ‘that person’s not going to like me,’ I’m not going to introduce myself to that person. These are mental barriers that we put up."

The third unit teaches how to develop strong social connections with friends, adults and professors and figuring out how to deal with social challenges. The fourth unit is about self-care and how to take care of ones body physically, emotionally and spiritually. The final unit is on goal setting, teaching students how to find out what they value, what their goals are and how they’ll take action to fulfill them.

"The goal for us was to find out how we can use this with freshman to help them transition to college as well as put in place things they need to stay healthy,” said Willard.

RMU recently implemented the SCoRE curriculum into their study skills classes to educate freshman more about the program. With that, LEAD Pittsburgh sponosred an essay contest with all the universities that currently use SCoRE. LEAD Pittsburgh is supported by The Heinz Endowments.

Besides Matisko, hundreds of students at eight other universities in Pittsburgh have benefitted from SCoRE.

“Students should use this curriculum because it’s a really good tool for transitioning into college and it gives really good tips on how to both deal with stress and have healthy relationships with others,” said Matisko.


Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.