In the first instance, United Educators is partnering with the Z Foundation to inspire organizations to implement mental health programs on their campuses.
Colleges that launch a program designed by the nonprofit Z Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to mental health and suicide prevention, will receive discounts on their premiums from United Educators, an insurance company owned and operated by 1,600 K-12 and higher education member organizations.
At the college level, the Z Campus program offers two iterations: a four-year plan and a short, 18-month Z Campus Fundamental Program. In the four-year program, organizations form a team of administrators, teachers, staff and students to conduct mental health examinations on campus; Conduct a student mental health survey; Complete a self-assessment; And create a strategic plan to address mental health concerns. Fundamental programs are similar but require less engagement and time on the part of the organization.
John McPhee, executive director and CEO of the Z Foundation, said, “When a school applies a broad approach to mental health, it means that they are implementing a culture of carrying a mental health protection net.” “These are the kind of systems we help schools set up, and the kind of systems and cultures and practices that reduce risk on campus.”
Of the 1,600 members of United Educators, 900 have already participated in the Risk Management Premium Credit Program, which allows organizations to earn credit for their renewal premiums by conducting specific risk-management activities, said Sarah Browler, vice president of risk management at UE. These activities now include the implementation of a Z mental health program as well as training supervisors on workplace harassment and teaching staff about common causes of accidents and falls.
Brawler said mental health issues on campus are not only a risk-management challenge but also a challenge for the insurance industry and society.
“We expect this from United Educators [this partnership] Makes a meaningful difference for students on campus, ”said Browler. “We know there is a need. Information tells us that there is a need. Institutional leaders say it’s a focus, and so we’re looking for better results for students, and I think the Z program has a track record of success. “
To include a Z mental health program, organizations receive a credit of 4 or 6 percent of their premium, depending on how the policy is structured, Browler said. For a four-year college, the Z Campus program costs $ 42,000 and the fundamentals are $ 14,000, McPhee noted; For a two-year organization, it’s $ 36,500 for the full program and $ 14,000 for the short.
“If you think that in many cases these policies are worth a few thousand dollars, [the credit] A significant amount of dollars, “said Braggler.” And in some cases, it can cover the entire cost of the Z program. In others, it can eliminate a portion of the cost, and again provide an incentive to take the initiative to move forward with the program. “
McPhee said the partnership could not come at a better time, as many students face chronic mental health problems arising from the COVID-19 epidemic.
“There are a lot of college students who are struggling with depression, anxiety and isolation,” McPhee said. “And it’s a problem that has been going on for years, but Kovid has exacerbated it by forcing isolation and uncertainty and grief and loss on many students. So time is of the essence.
Braughler added that many UE member organizations have shown interest in expanding mental health initiatives on campus.
“I think the idea of wellness is really catching on in institutions,” Browler said. “And there’s a lot of resources and time and capital investment, so if we can channel some of that, I think the people in the organization are looking for a solution.”
McPhee says about 400 colleges are currently using the Z program, and he hopes that the partnership with UE will encourage at least a dozen more participants.
Following the implementation of the Z Campus Program, according to the 2020 Z Campus Impact Report, 76 percent of campuses view students’ mental health as a campus-wide problem that requires the involvement of multiple departments and stakeholders, compared to 57 percent at the beginning of the program. And 65 percent included a strategic plan for student mental health, compared to 26 percent prior to the program.
McPhee noted that Z Campus has helped some institutions create 24-7 crisis hotlines for students and shorten waiting times at campus counseling centers.
Victor Schwartz, CEO and director of Mind Strategies, a mental health consulting firm that served as chief medical officer for the Z Foundation, said the partnership was an important step in trying to reduce the risk of mental illness.
“Over the years, the Z Foundation has developed a comprehensive model of public health that seeks to reduce the risk of self-harm and suicide on college campuses, and has implemented that model through the Z Campus Program,” Schwartz said. “United Educators are addressing the concerns of accountability in higher education, and I think this partnership, which has been under discussion for a long time, is a recognition that they believe this model is valid.”
And just as health insurance companies offer benefits to non-smokers, Schwartz said UE’s partnership with Jed indicates that colleges are doing the right thing in working to improve the mental health of their students.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Schwartz said. “COVID has certainly exacerbated and exacerbated the problems and this is an additional reason why it is a good idea for campuses to do what they can to provide support and services, including the things recommended by the Jed Campus program.”