Penny Rue, Ph.D.
December 5, 2014
NASPA recently collaborated with the American Council on Education and the American Psychological Association to publish A Strategic Primer on College Student Mental Health designed to be widely read and distributed, but also directed to college and university presidents. The report underscores the seriousness of mental health challenges on college campuses today and their negative relationship to student learning. The publication calls for a strategic and coordinated approach in addressing these pressing campus concerns.
NASPA has maintained a sustained focus on campus mental health. For example, NASPA has been involved in the development of very valuable suicide prevention resources following the tragic death by suicide of Jed Satow and the creation of the Jed Foundation in 2000. Most notably, NASPA was a co-sponsor in the development of two practitioner resources, Framework for Developing Institutional Protocols for the Acutely Distressed or Suicidal College Student (2006) and Balancing Support and Safety on Campus: A Guide for Campus Teams (2008). These resources have helped guide clinicians and administrators alike in developing broadly based prevention programs and care for struggling students, while also balancing campus safety.
New this year is an innovative partnership between the Jed Foundation and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) entitled the Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program, also known as the Campus Program, which is designed to help campuses promote emotional wellbeing, reduce substance abuse, and prevent suicide among 18-to-26 year-olds. The Campus Program expands upon the Jed Foundation’s JedCampus program, a groundbreaking self-assessment and feedback program that helps colleges create more comprehensive solutions to support their students.
The Campus Program draws heavily on the nine-factor model promoted in the Jed Foundation’s Framework. It expands upon that work to include expert recommendations on preventing substance abuse in college students.
To participate in the Campus Program, schools take a 128-question confidential, online self-assessment about their current mental health, suicide prevention, and substance abuse programming. An overview of the survey can help an institution understand if they are ready to consider participating in the effort. For a participating college, upon completion of the self-assessment, the school’s responses are compared to recommended practices developed by national experts in college mental health and substance abuse prevention. Then, experts from the Campus Program will provide a confidential feedback report and phone consultation with practical recommendations for enhancement.
Participating schools make a four-year commitment to work with the Campus Program to evaluate and identify opportunities to augment these activities on campus. The Campus Program provides schools with a framework for supporting student mental health, as well as assessment tools, feedback reports, and ongoing technical assistance from the Campus Program team.
Denisha Champion, staff counselor at the Wake Forest University Counseling Center, cited the expertise and focus of the Jed Foundation in Wake Forest’s decision to participate in the Campus Program. “Here’s a national organization whose whole purpose is suicide prevention,” Champion said. “They do it exclusively, they do it well, and they dig deep. I was impressed by the planners. They were very thoughtful and intentional in design.” Champion praised the self-assessment process, and looks forward to the date in a couple of months where experts from the Campus Program will sit down with a college team to go over the college’s self-assessment and make specific recommendations.
The Resources page of the Campus Program is available to participants and non-participants alike. That list represents the most comprehensive set of links for campus leaders seeking to learn more about effective strategies to improve student wellbeing and reduce harm. NASPA will continue to partner with thought leaders and action-oriented groups to provide the best possible resources and strategies to NASPA members.
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