University of Minnesota: U of M leadership shares updates on investments and next steps to support student mental health

At a time when student mental health is a significant concern on college campuses nationwide, an effort across the University of Minnesota’s five campuses to align services, programs, policies and academic practices to support student mental health is completing its first full year. At its June meetings, the University’s Board of Regents will hear about what has been accomplished since the initiative began in February 2021 and what is planned for the year ahead.

The President’s Initiative for Student Mental Health (PRISMH) was launched by University President Joan Gabel to centralize work happening across the U of M System and identify opportunities for inquiry, research and partnership. It reflects commitments made by Gabel from the outset of her presidency to work with University leaders and experts to address growing mental health challenges facing college-age students. Data have shown that the need for continued investment, focus and support for student mental health has and will likely continue to grow.

Utilizing a public health lens—grounded in data, practice and research—PRISMH has involved a wide cross-section of collaborators. A task force of 25 faculty, staff and students assembled from more than 300 applicants and a Minnesota State system representative guides PRISMH’s work, while nearly 50 additional subject matter experts are active contributors.

Task force co-chairs, Associate Dean Tabitha Grier-Reed from the College of Education and Human Development and Maggie Towle, senior associate vice president for student affairs, will review work completed and planned in four core areas: faculty support, research support, service delivery and communications. Work groups dedicated to each area developed proposals to identify existing and new ways the University can support student mental health through prevention and upstream efforts, research, allyship and early detection, services and treatment, and effective communications.

Grier-Reed and Towle will also share plans for the 2022-23 academic year, including the launch of a seed grant program for research, a new training for faculty and staff focused on effective mental health referrals, and exploration of how You@UMN and other sites like MyU and mentalhealth.umn.edu can support current PRISMH work, along with additional pilot programming.

As part of its June meetings, the Board is also expected to:

Act on Gabel’s recommended FY23 operating budget, as well as the FY23 capital improvement budget.
Receive an overview of the 2021 Employee Engagement Survey results.
Act on proposed changes to Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code.
Discuss distributed learning strategy with faculty and leadership.
Receive an update on undergraduate enrollment management, a systemwide update looking at information from all of the University’s campuses.
Adopt its meeting schedule for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year, which begins in July 2022.
Receive an update on the University’s Tribal relations work with Karen Diver, the senior advisor to the president for Native American affairs.

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