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M4R 2 is a research project that seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of a supportive, therapeutic environment to promote recovery and resiliency for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders on college campuses.


Approaching prevalent mental health and substance use disorders is a difficult public health hurdle. Due to issues such as the stigma of these disorders, individuals with mental health or substance use disorders do not always seek out available resources. In fact, in 2010 only 39% of adults suffering from a mental disorder used mental health services. The approach and treatment offered by mental health services may also contribute to these low rates of service. Patients have reported a three-fold preference for psychosocial interventions over medication based treatment. Despite this, in recent years the use of psychotherapy alone has decreased while use of medication alone has increased.

Mental health and substance use disorders are a significant issue in West Virginia right now. According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, 21.7% of WV residents are suffering from a mental health disorder. Further, WV has more than double the national average rate of drug overdose deaths, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Due to the complex and multidimensional nature of these public health problems, a multidimensional approach to recovery is needed.


Combining multiple, non-pharmacological therapies is a new approach that has yet to be studied for its effects on the recovery process. Therefore, the objectives of M4R 2 are to show the effects of creating a supportive, therapeutic environment for individuals in recovery on college campuses and promote resiliency in these individuals. This will be done through natural, holistic therapies that use a strength-based approach.

examples of different kinds of therapy


WVU’s Collegiate Recovery program has a unique approach featuring multiple pathways to recovery. Located at Serenity Place, a safe space for those in the recovery program, this program currently offers art, meditation, yoga, nutrition, culinary, pet, and aroma therapies and treats those in a wide range of recovery such as recovery from alcohol addiction, opiate addiction, cocaine addiction, and eating disorders. The combination of these approaches is unique, but these therapies have been individually found to be effective in the recovery process. The Lifestyle Intervention Research Lab is teaming with WVU’s Collegiate Recovery to examine the effects of incorporating multiple therapies in the recovery process.

M4R 2 will aim to measure the outcomes of this multidimensional approach to recovery therapy. Measurements that will be taken consist of anthropometric measurements, a 24 hour dietary recall taken every 4 weeks, and a survey distributed to each participant pre- and post-program. This survey will consist of questions regarding childhood experiences, self-reported health, substance dependence and cravings, psychological assessments, emotional experience, resilience, eating patterns, food insecurity, and money expenditures.

Outcome, Impact, & Future Work

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We are very excited to be working with WVU’s Collegiate Recovery at Serenity Place.

Publications & Presentations

* denotes Research Assistant Trainees in the Olfert Research Lab


Wattick RA*, Hagedorn RL*, Olfert MD. Eating Patterns And Behavioral Characteristics Of Young Adults In A Collegiate Recovery Setting. American Society for Nutrition Boston, MA. June 2018.

Wattick RA*, Hagedorn RL*, Olfert MD. Relationship Between Students’ Mental Health And Perception Of Campus Food Environment. American Society for Nutrition. Boston, MA. June 2018.

Wattick RA*, Hagedorn RL*, Olfert MD. College Student Perception Of Campus Stress Resources, Effects Of Stress On Eating, And Self-Reported Mental Health. American Society for Nutrition. Boston, MA. June 2018.