Healthy Minds Working Group releases recommendations

The Healthy Minds Working Group has developed a set of recommendations to further guide the university in its mental health and wellbeing initiatives. The recommendations complement the proposed action items outlined in the just-released Chancellor’s Strategic Plan for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)

The Healthy Minds survey gathered responses from more than 4,700 students—about 40 percent of the student population—in fall 2016 to assess students’ mental health status, health behaviors and use of health services.

“We have a rich trove of data to direct our further efforts, thanks to the more than 4,700 students who completed the Healthy Minds survey,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente. “Our entire student population, especially the graduate and professional students, continue to be highly engaged on the topic of mental health and wellbeing. Their valuable input, combined with the recommendations of the Chancellor’s Strategic Report on Mental Health and Wellbeing, are guiding our next steps.”

The new report lists five recommendations:

  • Launch a social norming campaign to present accurate data and corresponding campus services to address inaccurate perceptions and perceived stigma around mental health issues.
  • Develop a one-page synopsis of key findings to share with faculty, staff and teaching assistants, using the survey data to inform the development of training and workshops.
  • Expand training and education resources through a mandatory online module for the entire campus so that faculty, staff and students can provide better support for colleagues with mental health concerns.
  • Support faculty and teaching assistants as they prioritize mental health and emotional wellbeing with their students, with faculty addressing mental health excuses in course syllabi and assistants undergoing training to better support students who need help.
  • Improve and expand counseling services on campus through enhancing cultural competency of counseling center staff; pilot satellite locations and extended hours; create partnerships with campus groups; and strengthen relationships with community mental health providers.

The university is replacing the existing Psychological and Counseling Center in July with the University Counseling Center, which will collaborate with the newly created Office of Student Care Coordination, also opening in July, to direct students to the appropriate wellness resources. The UCC, with the Center for Student Wellbeing and the Student Health Center, will comprise the primary wellness network for undergraduate, graduate and professional students as well as postdoctoral fellows.

The working group released preliminary findings in December and then reconvened this spring to further analyze the survey data, with a special focus on graduate and professional students, international students and students of color.