We are all aware of the responsibility that colleges need to encourage academic and professional growth, prepare young adults for future careers and provide them with opportunities to learn life skills such as time management. However, while not always widely recognized, higher education institutions also have a responsibility to be a safe place where young adults can develop a sense of self-awareness, develop their own values and explore how to best support their well-being. College is a huge time of growth for us, and it is in our best interests to be aware of how the colleges we attend encourage student-to-student interaction. These relationships সঙ্গে with professors, faculty members, campus leaders, and university representatives — determine whether students find a safe place on campus.
I want to encourage college leaders to be not just a safe place, but a place of courage – a place where productive conversations take place and where risks are taken to create an environment that encourages equal participation across all identities. According to a recent Student Voice survey on students’ current state of mental health, LGBTQIA + students were twice as likely as direct students to rate their mental health as bad. Lower socioeconomic students and students of color were also more likely to rate their mental health as poorer than those of white and / or other socioeconomic peers, the survey found, conducted in March. Inside higher ed And College Pulse with the help of Kaplan.
When we think of creating a bold space, we must understand that the under-represented groups of students are most important, which requires active, meaningful involvement of student stakeholders. Whenever a crisis arises it is more than just a statement; It is a call to action, and all actions within space should be done with care and empathy. It requires listening to students ’ideas, values and opinions.
As a member of my Active Minds chapter at the University of Central Florida, one of the biggest changes we’ve made on my campus has been through collaboration between student advocates and teachers. During this conversation, we would like to ask the following questions:
- What are the most important issues facing our campus community regarding mental health right now?
- What policies, actions or messages can help lead to meaningful change?
- What will help promote a culture that is conducive to mental health?
There are always evolving conversations that need to happen consistently and are responsive to different needs of students at different times.
The constant presence and emphasis on mental health in student life is essential, from the first day a student sets foot in a classroom until the day he receives his degree. Campus administrators can work with student advocates to create events that promote Mars. Similarly, faculty can guide student advocates for resources to establish mental well-being as a priority in their personal or academic lives.
To achieve this, my Active Minds chapter first worked with the President’s Student Advisory Council to establish a council-every autumn welcome-back event for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives under the president’s office. During the event, students are introduced to campus resources that help them take care of their physical and mental health. They are greeted with popsicles and other accessories as a fun way to start the semester.
With the same council, we have worked to include mental health crisis line numbers in all student IDs. We’re proud to note that a significant portion of student IDs, over 30,000, now include these hotline numbers as a direct resource for student use.
Our chapter has worked consistently with student government leaders over the past year. This collaboration has been an important point in serving the student body of one of the largest universities in the country.
Crisis can and will happen. Reducing the culture around mental health should prioritize harm reduction and suicide prevention, with both teachers and students involved in education and training.
Providing us with a special position to provide advice and assistance for mental health law, we reserve a seat in the Disabled Caucus. Through that caucus, we have sponsored the creation of a Community Response Team, to address issues such as mental health crises and drug overdoses, and to recognize May as Mental Health Month.
We’ve also been able to create an announcement recognizing the third week of April as Stress Less Week®, an official Active Minds initiative designed to educate people about stress and anxiety and to create supportive mental health communities; This year, the proclamation was reprinted and signed by the Mayor of Orlando.
While these are great steps, action cannot stop here. Crisis can and will happen. Reducing the culture around mental health should prioritize harm reduction and suicide prevention, with both teachers and students involved in education and training. As a chapter, we refer to VAR®, or Validate-Appreciate-Reference, Active Minds Conversation Tool, training for student organizations to help us all learn how to listen and respond to everyday conversations on mental health.
We are also working on various campaigns to reduce the damage — in particular, we advocate for the provision of mental health first aid training and the development of risk-management training modules for student leaders, as well as the expansion of counseling on campus. Personnel and wellness programs for the community. We engage ourselves in research to determine how suicide prevention can be addressed at different stages of development.
The change of culture around mental health happens through small, meaningful steps. This is best reflected in our chapters through the positive feedback we get only by tables outside our student union, with small activities that involve students who like to stop and say hello.
Our general body meetings are another example, as they are simply a place for open conversation and communication.
I encourage professors and administrators to engage with student advocates and engage in this important cause. Small steps taken by staff and faculty – such as “How are you?” Checking in with students with questions like this or “Are you okay?” – can be incredibly profound and help nurture a culture that is more conducive to mental health and creates a bold space on our campus for students to grow.