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Lesley University and Riverside Tackle Growing Mental Health Challenges on Campuses in Novel Partnership

Cambridge, MA – Leveraging its expertise in educating mental health providers, and responding to the increasing levels of anxiety, stress, suicide, addiction, and ADHD among young adults, Lesley University is partnering with one of the state’s largest non-profit mental health providers, Riverside Community Care, to create a proactive model of student mental health and wellness care. The partnership will begin to address some of the persistent shortcomings of the current campus-based mental health system and seeks to find new, effective, and evidence-based approaches and treatments.

In fall 2022 Riverside will open an outpatient mental health center on Lesley’s campus: the Riverside Outpatient Center at Cambridge. Lesley’s current Counseling Center will then have the capacity to expand its wellness programming, and focus on advancing the field. Serving more than 40,000 people a year in Massachusetts, Riverside offers a wide range of mental health care, developmental and brain injury services, early childhood and youth programs, addiction treatment, trauma response, and more.

“Riverside Community Care brings a depth and breadth of services that would be challenging for any sized university to create on their own,” says Lesley University President Janet Steinmayer. “A transformative learning experience starts with students feeling relaxed, safe, and connected to their peers. As educators, we have to invest in the whole person and their wellbeing to be the most effective.”

One immediate advantage of the partnership is that students who need more consistent, longer-term care such as weekly therapy and psychopharmacology will have access to Riverside’s extensive network of counselors and psychologists with broad areas of specialization, including support for those with disabilities and those experiencing addiction or suicide risk. Students who are patients of Riverside’s center will have access to a network of counselors with deep expertise in working with people from historically underrepresented backgrounds, diverse gender and sexual orientations, and other specific needs.  The Riverside Outpatient Center at Cambridge will also provide services to local residents.

Most universities have to refer students outside of their own systems for this level of support and the current networks of mental health providers are fractured and insufficient, leaving a concerning gap in care for vulnerable students.

Riverside and Lesley are tightly aligned around the goal of making mental health services accessible and responsive to everyone’s needs. Based in Dedham, Massachusetts, Riverside is recognized for having one of the most skilled teams of providers in the state with experience working with diverse populations, and Lesley is seeking to attract and retain more diversity to its student ranks and the field. This groundbreaking partnership includes dedicated internship opportunities through Riverside for students in the university’s counseling, psychology, and expressive arts therapy programs.

“Lesley brings faculty at the forefront of their fields and the fresh minds of the next generation of these practitioners to the partnership,” said Riverside CEO Marsha Medalie.  “This partnership presents an extraordinary opportunity to meet the critical behavioral healthcare needs of young adults, and contributes to the development of the next generation of mental health clinicians.”

Riverside also offers extensive behavioral health consulting, screening, and suicide prevention programs for schools, communities, businesses, and organizations, reaching more than 3.5 million people around the globe. Tapping into this expertise, Lesley University has been working with MindWise Innovations (a service of Riverside Community Care) on the development of two certificate programs for Lesley University students and alumni who have or are earning a degree in teaching or mental health. The first certificate program is focused on suicide prevention education for K-12 teachers. The second certificate program is specifically for suicide assessment and intervention for mental health counselors in the community.

Joining Mindwise Innovations and Lesley is the non-profit research giant, The MITRE Corporation. The tri-collaboration is designed to drive evidence-based mental health care. MITRE data scientists have access to millions of anonymous behavioral health screens from MindWise Innovations for data analysis. Insights gleaned will be used to inform future programs.


Riverside Community Care makes a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities through innovative and compassionate behavioral healthcare and human services. A community-based non-profit organization, Riverside offers a wide range of mental healthcare, developmental and brain injury services, early childhood and youth programs, addiction treatment, trauma response, and more. And Riverside’s behavioral health consulting, screening, and suicide prevention programs are helping more than 3.5 million people around the globe.

Lesley University is uniquely focused on the human arts, with programs that live at the intersection of education, counseling, and the visual arts. Leslie is the largest educator of teachers and counselors in New England. More than 6,000 students study across four colleges—a professionally focused liberal arts college, an independent college of art and design, a graduate school of education, and a graduate school of social sciences—as well as in the Threshold Program, a residential program for students with learning differences.

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