Improving mental health together
A year ago, I ran for GM on a platform that prioritizes mental health. Now, I would like to share how we can work together as a campus community to address mental health. From what I can tell, no other university has such a large scale effort to improve mental health. There are a lot of individualized efforts around campus in regards to mental health, from student groups like Active Minds or the Student Senate, departments like the Health/Counseling Center, or even individual faculty members doing their part in classes. In order to make the most sustained impact on mental health at Rensselaer, we need to provide some leadership and direction to tie all these efforts together.
I have a vision—which is now being realized—for a group of key campus leaders including administrators, faculty, staff, and students to spearhead an effort to address and tackle mental health concerns on campus together.
Our approach to addressing this issue is two-fold: prevention and response. Prevention is addressing stressors and sources of mental health problems within our reach, before they develop into more serious concerns. For example, some of these efforts will focus on bolstering the Advising and Learning Assistance Center, the Center for Career and Professional Development, and student support groups such as clubs and organizations on campus. Response is focusing on providing services like the counseling center and peer counseling. The beauty of addressing mental health is that the actions we need to take are completely within reach. A lot of work can be done through ongoing conversations (think town halls and mental health focused events and speakers) and refocusing all the resources we have now. The latter includes additional training of faculty advisors to advise students on other aspects outside of core academics such as time management, and goal setting.
In order for this effort to be sustained and make the most impact for our campus, we need a buy-in from all of the key partners around campus. Everyone has a role to play in this effort: the Student Health and Counseling Center can provide benchmarking and mental health support, faculty can have conversations about mental health in academics, students can contribute with event planning/clubs and Greek Life involvement, and administrators can provide speaker series.
So far, we have taken inventory of all the efforts and resources on campus, started to identify what data sets we have access to and what data we need to get, and are starting to write out goals for the larger plan. I aim to have this plan written out and put into action by the end of March. Although this surpasses my time as Grand Marshal, I plan to stay involved in this effort beyond my term, and possibly even after I graduate.
Very soon after the finalized plan is written and released, we will need help from students, staff, and faculty from all corners of our campus community. So if you’re interested in helping to tackle mental health concerns on campus, reach out to me at email@example.com and we can talk more about how you can contribute to this effort!