Mary Christie Quarterly A publication of the Mary Christie Foundation
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Issue 20 | Winter 2021
Mary Christie Quarterly The Mary Christie Quarterly is a publication of the Mary Christie Foundation, a thought leadership organization dedicated to the health and wellness of young adults, with a particular focus on college students. The Mary Christie Foundation is funded, in part, by Christie Campus Health.
STAFF President Editor & Executive Director Program Manager Communications Coordinator Program Associate Art and Layout Director
Zoe Ragouzeos, Executive Director of Counseling and Wellness Services, NYU Marjorie Malpiede Dana Humphrey Anna Goodwin Rory Kelly Ashira Morris
ARTIST Cover Illustration
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair
John P. Howe, III
Mary Jane England
Lisa Kelly Croswell
David Henderson, MD
Sarah Ketchen Lipson
Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Desk As we head into 2021, the health and wellbeing of our citizens has never been more of a priority. The imprint of the global pandemic and the enduring political turmoil of these past several months will stay with our young people indefinitely. The impact these events are showing to have on young peoplesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mental wellbeing is disturbing on many levels and it is becoming apparent that our next generation of leaders may face challenges not yet imagined. This issue of the Mary Christie Quarterly highlights progress being made on improving the mental health and wellbeing of teens and young adults, from the therapeutic programs at Bostonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Camp Harbor View, to the student success agenda at Arizona State University, to the revolutionary flourishing work being done at Penn State, UVA, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Also included in this issue is evidence and perspective from a host of remarkable people who care deeply about making the world a better place. Thank you for your interest in our work.
Marjorie Malpiede Editor
CONTE NTS 29 Q&A: Dr. Joanne Vogel, VP of Student Services at Arizona State University
“I think if there is one main ingredient to our special sauce it’s that for a place of our size, it is highly personalized.” — Dr. Joanne Vogel
45 Imagining the Future with the Student Flourishing Initiative
“We are examining the role of the university in student wellbeing which, in my opinion, has lost its ability to teach in a broad way about what it means to be human.” — Mark Greenberg, former Director of the Prevention Research Center at Penn State and a founding father of Social and Emotional Learning
CONTE NTS 06 Highlights from the Quadcast 17 Camp Harbor Viewâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wide Lens 21 Op-Ed: Mental Health Should be at the Forefront of Crisis Interventions on Campus 23 The Art of Being Well 29 Q&A: Dr. Joanne Vogel, VP of Student Services at Arizona State University 33 Interesting People Doing Important Work 40 Op-Ed: A Path Towards Identifying Suicide Risk Factors in College Students 42 Building Community and Mental Health Support for Young Adults with Chronic and Rare Diseases 45 Imagining the Future with the Student Flourishing Initiative 49 Science Summary
The Mary Christie Quadcast is a series of conversations with thought leaders in higher education and health care on issues related to the behavioral health, wellbeing and success of students. In late December, we spoke with Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College and President-elect of the Boston Foundation, about supporting student wellbeing through one of the most turbulent years in history; confronting racism; and looking ahead to positive change in 2021. Here is the transcript of our conversation.
Marjorie Malpiede: We talked a couple of years ago about college student mental health, particularly as it relates to your students who are so incredibly talented and passionate. In fact, you have been a real advocate for college student mental health and have been a great participant in our work at the Mary Christie Foundation. But the impact of 2020 on student mental health just sort of blows everything to a new level, right? From the pandemic to the painful political climate, to the traumatic examples of persistent racism that are still so raw.
So my first question is, what are you most concerned about in terms of your studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mental health and what should higher education be thinking about in terms of addressing these issues? Lee Pelton: Well, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clear that the triple pandemic of COVID-19, economic devastation and the very public exposure of the structural and systemic racial inequities and barriers that have kept some of our students and of course some of our citizens in the nation from fully participating in American democracy, has had a profound and jarring effect on
our students -- who, exhibit in varying degrees, enormous mental fatigue, frustration, a sense of isolation, especially for students who are studying remotely by themselves, sometimes in very unfavorable conditions and circumstances. And of course, as you’ve noted depression. Colleges and universities need to be, and I hope that we are, more attentive to our students, understanding that their needs are really very acute and urgent. What we’ve done at Emerson is we’ve consolidated our center for health and wellness and counseling and psychological services into an integrated counseling health and wellness center. We’re doing this really in the wake of the JED healthy campus project, coming to campus and highlighting the need to provide greater attention to student health and wellbeing and provide a robust and intentional college-wide program. And the circumstances of the current pandemic reinforced the need, I think as we all know, for colleges to think more broadly, intentionally and holistically about the health and wellbeing of not only students, but the entire college community. MM: Clearly colleges like Emerson have been thinking about this, in terms of COVID-19 and mental health and as you say, what’s going on in society in general. And I should give a shout
LEE PELTON out to James Hoppe, your VP of Campus Life. I know he’s done some great work consolidating all of the services as you’re describing, including wellness services. Data are showing that what students are reporting has a lot to do, as you say, with isolation and a decrease in their sense of belonging. And this is not just a service delivery issue, I mean, this is really about how colleges can create environments for positive wellbeing and belonging. Would you say that’s correct? LP: That’s true. And I think we should also recognize that these issues disproportionately impact certain segments of our student population. Students from lower income populations will have less access to some of the resources that other students will have. I know for instance, that
some students from certain populations don’t like to turn on the video in their Zoom class because they don’t want other students to see the conditions in which they live. And so that’s a very different approach to being educated than someone from a place of privilege. MM: You’re right about that. And the pandemic has certainly shined a light on so many inequities when you think about student affairs issues. The income disparities, particularly, you’re just referring to. So talk a little bit about that, Lee, in terms of the work that we still have to do going forward, It has to do with mental health, of course, but also just to do with the way students arrive on campus in very, very unequal ways. Correct? LP: Well, absolutely they do. 7
I’ll give you an example I think we should of what we’ve done at Emerson with respect also recognize to health and wellness. that these issues We’ve reallocated our disproportionately existing resources so impact certain that we’ve increased substantially the counselsegments of our student ing resources available population. to students. There are more clinical hours availare available and how stuable over the summer term, we have some students dents are using them. So it really does speak to, A, your here in the summer. We’ve own commitment to it, but increased hours assigned to also how the issue of college case management and supstudent mental health has port for students seeking certainly risen up in the priservices off campus, let’s not orities of college presidents. forget the students who are I’ll refer to the Pulse Survey off campus. you, I’m sure, also saw that We’ve increased our allocacame out this week from the tion to the multicultural speAmerican Council of Educacialists, which is part of what tion that showed that nearly we’re talking about here, 70% of presidents identified to support and provide adstudent mental health as ditional support to students among their most pressing of color. And over the last issues. So I think all that is four years, we’ve more than certainly good news. tripled our counseling health Speaking of presidents, I and wellness resources. And think that you’re a great I’m happy to report that half example of one that commuof our current counseling nicates frequently with stustaff are people of color. So dents and sets a tone around these are the kinds of efforts culture on your campus. Your that we need to make in this letter to your community afarea, understanding that the impact of the triple pandemic ter the killing of George Floyd was so profound, so powerthat I referred to earlier, ful and so authentic given disproportionately impacts your own experience. And certain populations in our you ended by saying, “What student body. are we going to do? That’s the MM: Fifteen years ago, it real question.” would maybe seem unusual So I’m going to turn that to to hear a college president you. What should higher talk so specifically about the education be doing first, to mental health services that
address the racial trauma experienced by their black students. And also, to really bring about the social justice we so desperately need in this country? LP: The first it is a deep understanding and an acknowledgement of these troubling issues. You know, I wrote a letter to my community; actually, there were 7 to 8 million people around the globe that had access to it. So it struck a chord. And I talked about my own experiences and encounters with racism, some of it involving police, some of it not. And I wanted to make visible what was invisible. That is to say, I wanted everyone to understand that what happened to George Floyd, which was a galvanizing moment, it was not a new event but it was a galvanizing moment, that in some respects there are people like myself, people in power and privilege, black men and women, who have also suffered these racial encounters and indignities. George Floyd’s death came about because of three reasons. One is he was invisible to Policeman Chauvin who put his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he cried out for his mom and said he couldn’t breathe. And he kept his knee on his neck, if you recall, for several minutes after George Florida lost consciousness. He was able to do that because he was invis-
ible, he wasn’t human. And there was something embedded in that officer, and really in this country that structural and systemic, that made him think that this was okay.
got it, I get it. I understand it now, your letter made me understand it.” And so he showed me he had set up a GoFundMe page for Black Lives Matter.
But what I sought to do was to lift up this event as an example of the structural and systemic racism that has long plagued our country. And I want to make an important distinction here between what we would refer to as racism and bigotry, which are individual acts, and structural and systemic racism, which are those structures that are built in to our culture, our society, our legal system, that allow the racism to persist. Recognizing that they intersect with other issues with women’s struggles for rights, with LGBTQ and so on and so forth.
MM: That is fantastic. It was an incredibly powerful letter. I had the pleasure of speaking to a number of black student athletes about these issues at Pitt. And one young man who was a track and field star said, “When I saw the video, all I could think about was my brother, my father, my uncle. It could have been any of us.” And his point was, he experienced it so much differently than so many of his peers. And I’m just wondering if you think schools are recognizing that difference and what you’re seeing around the country with your peers about some of the best practices of addressing that? Because it’s a different issue for black college students.
But those are two important distinctions. So to get to the answer of your question is, “What can you do? What can all of us do?” First of all is, come to terms with this issue and seek to understand it. And you understand it by understanding the history of structural racism in this country, going back now 401 years, beginning in 1619 when the first slaves were brought to this country. I received thousands of emails and letters and a lot of them stand out. And what was particularly memorable was a white man, probably in his 80s, who essentially said, “I
LP: Well, as I said, it was a galvanizing moment and not just for students of color, but for white students as well. If you recall many protests and rallies that we had this summer, they were multicultural and multi-racial which I found to be positive. It was wonderful that students and young people were able to speak up and speak out and also tell their stories. So the colleges and universities have been galvanized as well. On the other hand, this is not
new. I think Nell Painter, the wonderful historian, says that America has an amnesia problem. That is to say, that we have these moments and they’re ephemeral, and then we go on and then we have another moment, another galvanizing moment. And so the question is what are we going to do in colleges and universities? And what I’ve concluded is that, how we normally approach these issues that that script will not work. Because we’ve used it over and over and over again and we still hear the same complaints from students from one generation to the next. And the complaint can be boiled down to this, “I do not have a sense of belonging at this college. I understand that you, Mr. President and Mr. Dean and Ms. Dean and Ms. President, you’ve done all the things that you’re supposed to do in terms of hiring faculty of color, increasing the presence of students of color on campus. You’ve beefed up the counseling services, you’ve got culturally competent pedagogy and all of that. But my experience hasn’t changed.” And so what we’re looking at doing at Emerson is to take a really deep, honest appraisal of our college culture to try to understand how it could be that after... It’s my ninth year here at Emerson. After having put into place so many
different measures, how it could be that some students still feel as outsiders, that they don’t belong, that they move around in these spaces, principally white spaces, with a sense of alienation. So, I’m saying all that because these issues are deeply structural and What I sought to do cultural. And it’s not a president’s problem. It’s was to lift up this event as an example not a faculty problem. It’s not a student probof the structural and lem. It is a community problem. And the only systemic racism that way that we can solve has long plagued our this -- if “solve” is the country. right word? -- the only way that we can make substantial progress, if we understand first of all that it is a community problem and the community must come together to figure this out. Because a president can’t do it on her own, a dean can’t do it on her own and a student group cannot, or groups, cannot do that.
And so we need to do a real deep dive into this. And so that’s what we’re seeking to do at Emerson. We haven’t figured it all out, but I’m absolutely convinced that it has to start with an honest appraisal of those things in our community and in our culture that make the experiences of some of our students and faculty that doesn’t feel as if they’re fully participating. MM: There’s an awful lot of work to do and that was 10
so helpful. Let’s talk a little bit about student activism – that’s something that we’re seeing more of, maybe a resurgence we haven’t seen in decades. Talk a little bit about that and why you think that’s important? LP: I’m often asked, “Is this a movement or a moment?” It’s certainly a moment, it’s not clear to me that it’s a movement. I am made hopeful by the fact that the participants in this moment have been really very diverse. And for the most part, despite what one might believe, have been extraordinarily peaceful and non-violent. One of the things that I find hopeful is that this moment has become a kind of training program for the future leaders of this nation. And I don’t know which ones will emerge, but I think you will see out of this young people who become community organizers, some whom may start their own nonprofits or work at nonprofits, and some who will go on to positions in politics and government. MM: That would certainly be a silver lining, wouldn’t it? I want to stick on policy for a second and just ask you about your thoughts about it. The change in administrations should bring significant change, I would think, to higher education policies, specifically those that we cover in terms of student affairs like DACA, Title IX, college af-
fordability, international students, visas, et cetera. That’s an awful lot of stuff and I don’t mean to throw them all at you to address. But, if you were to think about what you really hope will change with the Biden administration, what are you thinking? What are you most hopeful about? LP: Well, I think I’m most hopeful, and a lot of us are, that we’ll return to a sense of normalcy. Less chaos in Washington and elsewhere. With respect to immigration, Biden’s got this issue of the Southern border and immigrants seeking asylums. And he’s going to take on that issue, that he would reverse Trump’s policies that separate families and have created spikes in deportation. They would end the ban on travel from certain majority Muslim countries. And of course that he would protect DACA students. And all of those, including the last one, will be heavy lifts for him. You know, the two big issues for colleges and universities still is access and affordability. It would be wonderful if we could have the federal government and states providing more resources to colleges and universities so that we could increase both of those. The price and the cost, which is the net price, of colleges and universities have risen
dramatically. And it’s made education at some of the places out of reach for middle-class and certainly other economic standings from having access to colleges and universities. It would be a federal plan that would help us make colleges and universities more accessible to a larger group of college going students. MM: Speaking of policy impact... My last question is about your new role. So you’ll be moving on from Emerson at the end of this year to join The Boston Foundation as its president. It is certainly one of the premier community foundations in the country and has done an amazing, job here in the greater Boston area. As president, you’ll be in a position to actually impact policy for children and teens and young adults, not just college students. So my question is, will the emotional and behavioral health of this population group still be a priority for you in your new position? LP: Yes, absolutely and every aspect of their health. They’re more Americans, and this really translates into children, who go hungry each day than there were eight months ago. In fact, that number has tripled, obviously that is a detriment not only to their physical health, but also their mental health. We are going to reach out with intentional-
ity to the neighborhoods in Boston. We’re going to listen and learn and where we can, help to improve lives, particularly the lives of young people. And we’re going to do this through the equity lens, both social equity and racial. So yes, that’s very much on our list. The Boston Foundation is supported by a three-legged stool. It’s a grant maker and it supports nonprofits throughout the region. We partner with our donors to increase the impact of their philanthropy. And then The Boston Foundation is a civic leader in terms of its research, its ability to convene, collaborate on key issues facing the community. But what it has that’s unlike most community foundations is that it has, and it had from the beginning because it’s one of the oldest community foundations in the nation, a permanent fund. And this permanent fund allows The Boston Foundation to make discretionary gifts out of that fund. That fund is almost a half a billion dollars. And so we will use the permanent fund, as we always have, to change and transform the lives of people not only in Boston, but beyond.
JOHN J. DEGIOIA
SHIRLEY M. COLLADO
In November, John J. DeGioia, PhD, President of Georgetown University and Shirley M. Collado, PhD, President of Ithaca College, were interviewed for a special series on the Mary Christie Quadcast. “Creating Environments for Flourishing,” a five-part series, was based on a report by the same name, which highlighted findings from a set of Higher Education Leadership Convenings, held at Georgetown University, in late 2019 and early 2020. The reports highlighted opportunities for flourishing and the important role of leadership in committing higher education to the flourishing of young adults.
Zoe Ragouzeos: Jack, why is flourishing such an important goal for college students? And might I add, is this even more important now, given all that students are experiencing?
This transcript below is excerpted from that conversation, edited for length and clarity.
What unfolds during the college years on our campuses is the work of “formation.” And this is the process through
John DeGioia: We’re all so lucky to be alive when such important new work, over the course of the last quarter century, has been undertaken in positive psychology and understanding the conditions for flow, for happiness, for strengthening our resiliency and even our grasp of our own biology, specifically the insights that have emerged in neuroscience.
which each of us seeks to establish the terms to be our most authentic selves. And when we can do this, this is flourishing. In universities, we build it around knowledge, but we also have unparalleled resources for enabling students to make meaning in their lives. I don’t think the idea has ever been more important than it is right now for us to celebrate flourishing of our young people. ZR: Shirley, we know that inclusion and belonging are also so important to mental health and flourishing. How do you think that fits into an overall flourishing approach? Shirley Collado: When I think about the role of our institutions and this idea of flourishing, not just in con-
cept, but in practice, I think it begs the question of whether we really want everyone to belong and to be seated at the table. Part of the accountability that we hold in allowing flourishing to truly take place for all, is our ability to look at conditions in the Academy. To look in the mirror and really think about, yes, the power in all that we’ve done historically in higher education, but also the truths in the people that we’ve historically left out. Today demands of us a real sense of responsibility in how we need to shift and change to produce a real, authentic ability for our students to be who they really are, to be seen as assets coming to us to find their own ability to flourish. And also allowing our institutions to do the same in a relationship that I think is going to look very different than our past. JD: This question about inclusion and belonging is so important to mental health and flourishing. I place this under the rubric of formation. And the work of formation is deeply personal and requires trust and intimacy. If we’re going to explore the deepest questions, the ones that will lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves, of what will constitute authenticity in our lives - this work requires rich, intimate conversation.
We need to be in places of trust. And a goal for each of our communities is to be able to pursue these deep, intimate interpersonal relationships across our differences, to work through the blocks to such intimacy. If we can help sustain a sense of belonging, this important work can take place. ZR: In the Creating Environments for Flourishing report, we talk about what it takes to create environments for flourishing, including a commitment from leadership, the use of innovation, opening up communities of support, and assessment. Jack, what do you think are the most important of these and what do you think are the most challenging? JD: This does require a whole university approach, a whole community approach. We will never be able to address some of the challenges that define this moment through our counseling centers alone,
or even through some of our special initiatives that are designed to try to address the needs of our young people. We’ve seen all of this from this virtual learning environment that many of us have been in for the last several months. The role of our faculty has never been more important in the lives of our students, than it is right now. And I think we’re going to come out of this, having had a set of experiences that we can draw from, that will enrich the ways in which we approach this in a whole university, a whole community approach. SC: We know that our communities are interdependent and interconnected with the society and the communities in which our institutions reside. I think many of us certainly are committed to the idea of no longer being ivory towers or colleges on the hill, but really understanding our role in the public good. And we’re facing one of the most historical elections in American history, along with the public health crisis, and the rise of so much hard work on race relations in America.
What unfolds during the college years on our campuses is the work of “formation.” And this is the process through which each of us seeks to establish the terms to be our most authentic selves.
So much of the challenge and the hope comes with us fully acknowledging that our students are right now navigating multiple realities. So much has been exposed during this time around issues of real 13
equity. I think it’s challenging to meet a very diverse student body with a variety of needs and realities. And now literally, they’re all over the country and world while we’re trying to feel connected.
Like Jack said, our staff and our faculty have risen in ways that we never imagined possible. And students are doing the same. The grit, the resiliency, a lot of the assets that we talk about, that we know are alive and well in so many students, are being tested in new ways right now.
The grit, the resiliency, a lot of the assets that we talk about, that we know are alive and well in so many students, are being tested in new ways right now.
JD: If you think about the challenges of anxiety and depression, these are among the most common presenting concerns with clear growth trends over the past four or five years. One in five of adolescents will have a mental illness that will persist into adulthood. We know that the onset of most mental health disorders occurs between the ages of 14 and 26. We can provide good first experiences for young people in engaging with mental health challenges. It can help put them on a pathway where they’ll be able to manage and cope with these challenges throughout their lives. One of the challenges that I think we would just need to acknowledge, and this is pre-
COVID and now only exacerbated by the pandemic, is just a significant level of anxiety and depression in young people that we’ve all been experiencing on our campuses. ZR: There is a question about whether flourishing can be taught. We’ve seen some interesting initiatives being tried in this area in many colleges and universities. The Wellness Environment at the University of Vermont is a good example. Shirley, what do you think? SC: I think absolutely it can be reflected back to students in a way that can be very promising. My personal take on this is that we should normalize what is true and important for many college students and use a strengthbased approach. Whether we’re talking about a center focused on first-generation college students or how we think about orientation programs, or how we develop living and learning communities. These are all initiatives that happen inside and outside the classroom. When we integrate this real practice and affirmation of flourishing and full participation, when it is embedded in all that we do in word and practice, students can see this and see an affirmation of their greatest abilities. Rather than what we’ve done more historically, which is antiflourishing, when we place pathology and deficit on the
things that often should actually be seen as major assets.
ability to create those environments?
When all of our students feel like they have a stake in a community, they have a stake in the conversation, and it’s not about the majority and the other, or the traditional versus the non-traditional, that will get us to a real healthy outlook on what it means to be a human being, especially in an academic community, regardless the pathway that got us there.
SC: I think that there are absolutely some things that can stick. The way that we’ve created a community in the middle of all of this, especially in the classroom, but also around a lot of student engagement and wellness programs outside the classroom, has educated so many of us, especially schools that had not been doing a lot of virtual or online education.
JD: There are habits, skills practices, there are healthier ways of approaching each day, including getting more sleep and exercise and self-care, recognizing the importance of being in interpersonal relationships and social groups, mindfulness, if appropriate, a therapeutic relationship with a counselor in a counseling center. There are things we learned that we can share with our young people. We can introduce them to certain kinds of practices and skills and habits that just might enable them to work their way through some difficult patches along the way.
Even though we have students who’ve negotiated some really hard circumstances, this time has affirmed that students are so eager, as our faculty and staff, to see the added value of being in-person and being connected, of being on a college campus. Faced with this kind of pressure, the magnitude of what’s been before us for the last several months, people rise up to the challenge and can create learning communities.
ZR: You both mentioned the extreme challenges we’re facing with COVID-19 on our campuses. I wonder if you think that there might be some silver linings in terms of our ability to create environments for flourishing, or do you think that COVID-19 will significantly prohibit our
And the way that we provided wellness programs and mental health resources, has also proven how nimble and resilient students in academic environments can be. I do think is important to add the importance of using a strengths-based approach. The students that we have sometimes deemed to be at greatest risk - let’s say a firstgeneration college student, a student coming from low-in-
come or low resources - have modeled for other students how to negotiate very difficult circumstances during a time that’s really hard. And that’s important for all of us to see. And to push the boundaries of what happens in the classroom, when you don’t have students who have access to technology, or the privacy of their own room, where they can do work in a comfortable house, students negotiating work schedules with synchronous and asynchronous classes online. These things are real. All of that to me, has proven how we can always learn so much more from each other. The community can look very differently and strengths can look very differently when circumstances shift, and I hope that we will remember that when we are able to be together in-person in community again. JD: I would just pick up on those comments and say, we will never take anything for granted again. I think we always had a sense that it was very special being able to spend our lives together here in a residential university community. I think we always understood how important that was, but it’s never been more apparent to us just how important this opportunity is and how valuable it is. I also would just reiterate how much our faculty mean 15
to our students in this virtual learning environment. It sometimes can get lost in the context of all of the busy-ness and extracurricular life and social life. Right now, it’s a very focused experience online and the role that our faculty play in the lives of our students could not be more important, could not be more meaningful. From a practical perspective, we’re learning, we’re expanding the range of how we might think about providing support services. We’ve had to create a network of outside clinicians to augment services that we would offer here, in part because of limitations on licensing for our own staff in our counseling center. So we’ve been able to create a little bit more capacity out of necessity, which we might be able to then draw upon in the future. Telehealth, doesn’t take the place of in-person, but I think will have a role for us as part of our framework as we go forward. ZR: Yes. And I definitely agree with that as well. Any final thoughts on the subject of flourishing, any final comments from either one? SC: Something that we haven’t mentioned is how important it is for us in leadership roles to commit to helping students see more of themselves. And by that I
mean, when we think about our amazing health and wellness staff, clinicians, faculty members, the senior leadership teams, the administrators of a college or university, that students see themselves in us -- real reflections of their lived experiences around race, LGBTQ issues, gender and sexuality, firstgeneration college graduates. To be able to see the kind of vulnerability and humanity we have described today in the people who support them, who educate them, who are with them. That’s a part of our commitment to flourishing as well. And it’s not just students of color, it’s not just students who’ve been underrepresented. All students want to see a much more diverse reflection of the world in their classrooms and in their day-to-day experiences. And that has to be a commitment on our part too. JD: That’s a great point, Shirley. The one thing I’d say, we’re all still immersed in responding to being in the midst of a pandemic. I do think we should also give some attention to anticipating what the needs are going to be in our communities when we are all back. Because another area where there are new resources available to us is the deeper understanding we have about trauma. How do we meet the needs of young people who
may have been subject to trauma? The impact of this pandemic on each of us is uncertain right now. I think we’ve got to anticipate, recognizing we are still immersed in this pandemic, the needs at that intersection of flourishing and being able to respond in new ways to the kinds of challenges our young people have confronted. I think this is a moment that’s going to require our very best work. SC: I could not agree more. We have all been working through something of enormous magnitude that I hope our students don’t have to ever experience again in their lifetime. And we need to be very proactive and ready for what our students will need and what they will want us to do and respond to as we all reconnect and come together. Sustaining all of these important points on the other side of this is really important, really essential. Subscribe and listen to the Quadcast on your podcast player of choice. All episodes are available at https://marychristiefoundation.org/quadcast/.
Camp Harbor View’s Wide Lens By Marjorie Malpiede
uring the summer of 2020, there was much speculation about whether or not camps could operate during COVID-19. What would be the point of a place-based recreational experience if there could be no place and no recreation? At Camp Harbor View, the decision was a lot more complicated. Its summer program, set on an island in Boston Harbor, offers activities like swimming, sailing, sports and biking, but it also provides three meals a day, leadership training, mental health counseling, and summer jobs for high schoolers. Camp Harbor View is not so much a camp as it is a multi-purpose, holistic, wraparound program serving the city’s most marginalized neighborhoods. So, when faced with having to close down due to the pandemic, its leaders reversed course
and brought the camp to the campers. Not only did backpacks arrive with sports equipment, crafts, games, and totes for families filled with household supplies and hygiene products, daily meals were also provided to campers’ families along with unrestricted funds to lessen the toll the crisis has disproportionately taken on their wellbeing and livelihoods. What Camp Harbor View was able to do last summer was made possible by years of steady growth fueled by the imagination of its founders and an unparalleled fundraising effort. The Camp was started in 2007 by the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston businessman Jack Connors, Jr. as a way to get middle-schoolers out of the city at a time of escalating crime. The hope was that, once they came to camp, they’d stick with the program through high school and
even, for some, into college where they would return to the island as staff members in the summer. Stick they did, as the camp now serves a total of 950 kids through two month-long summer sessions, 200 Leadership Academy participants year-round, and employs over 100 others as counselors and staff members each year. Over time, the camp became a natural extension of its original work with a teen center in the city where kids can connect with one another as well as with mentors, attend workshops on issues like social justice, or work on college and career readiness within the Leadership Academy. In the last three years, the growth accelerated with the arrival of Lisa Fortenberry as executive director and the addition of the Youth and Family Support Program, both of 17
which brought the organization even closer to the social service model it has now adopted. Fortenberry had held a number of leadership positions in youth-serving organizations, mostly as an advocate for education equity. Her interest in social and emotional learning (SEL) and youth development led her to Camp Harbor View, where she says she was “blown away” by what was happening. “I went out to the island for a visit with Jack [Connors], and when I got there I literally said, ‘This can’t be real,’” said Fortenberry. “I’m looking at 500 Black and Brown kids that are like my own running around this incredible island with everything you’d see at
a Nantucket country club. I’m looking at 100 staff people, 90 percent of whom are Black and Brown. And they are all having these incredible experiences – culturally, recreationally, and emotionally. I had never seen anything like it.” Fortenberry says what she saw most clearly was an opportunity to bring all of the elements of the Camp together with a therapeutic underpinning that could intentionally improve the lives of campers and their families. After hiring an impressive staff team and undergoing a theory of change process that challenged the organization to identify what it was uniquely positioned to do, Fortenberry focused on build-
ing out the elements of its program with a commitment to youth, family support, and clinical services. “We looked at generational approaches to lifting kids out of poverty, which required intensive support for the whole family,” she said. “And we strengthened our clinical work where we now have true caseloads and systems and structures that mirror more formal social work agencies – but without the billing.” Camp Therapy With a high-profile charity event called the “Beach Ball” and ongoing donations from corporations and individuals, the Camp was able to pursue its expanded support strate-
gy. In 2018, Fortenberry hired Lauren Bard, a social worker with experience in directing youth programs, to head up the Youth and Family Support team that includes free therapy sessions for anyone who needs them.
Bard describes a three-tiered model that involves intense individual work; emotional and social support that might include some group therapy; and restorative techniques, like circles, that benefit everyone.
“We are providing individual mental health therapy for many, many young people with no insurance billing, no co-pays,” said Bard. “That makes it really accessible and stigma-free for our families.”
“Sometimes campers want to come out to the island to forget about their troubles and just go swimming or sailing,” she said. “But when they are struggling, we need to know that and be ready with the right kind of support.”
With clinicians on staff, the program offers year-round therapy for high school students as well as the holistic student assessment for all kids in the program to identify anyone who needs extra attention. Bard is an advocate of restorative practice and has since trained all staff in restorative circles which, she says, allows anyone who interacts with campers to support their emotional health. Campers who need to “take a moment” can do so in a sensory break room with bean bag chairs, aromatherapy and soothing music, right on the island. “We’re not just making sure that every kid has access to a therapist, we want to make sure that every staff member has the skills they need to provide mentorship, de-escalation, and positive relationships. That way, we can better serve the kids who come to us.”
For some campers, the therapeutic element is the difference between staying and leaving. “I can think of one young person from last summer who was having some struggles in the community and he brought some of that behavior to camp,” said Bard. “I am pretty sure he would have been kicked out of another camp, but we were able to make a deal with him to check in every day with one of our mental health counselors who was a Black man with training in trauma. It was such a beautiful connection that allowed us to keep this camper all summer.”
“Camp Harbor View is not so much a camp as it is a multi-purpose, holistic, wrap- around program serving the city’s most marginalized neighborhoods.”
In the summer of 2020, mental health was top of mind for Camp Harbor View as campers endured the isolation and suffering brought on by COVID-19. Therapy sessions 19
were declined by some young people who were uncomfortable with remote counseling, though the program tried its best to provide some in-person therapy in safe distances. Zoom-based group work on a range of SEL topics increased, but Bard said she was really concerned about campers’ emotional and behavioral development being stunted by the lack of routine and inperson relationship-building. She is also worried about safety in the home with fewer checks on domestic violence. In October, Camp Harbor View issued a “Healthy Minds Tool Kit,’ coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month. “With COVID, there was an increase in understanding just how important mental health is to young lives, or anyone’s lives, so we put
together a mental health tool kit customized for our families to recognize signs of distress and know where to turn,” said Bard. The tool kit for campers and parents is the kind of wraparound support families can expect from Camp Harbor View. Other examples include food and housing assistance, parent workshops, a holiday fund, and a resource hub that connects them to services throughout the city. Since COVID-19, the program has helped people apply for unemployment, navigate the eviction crisis, and get back on their feet with $2,000 given in partnership with the Family Independence Initiative (FII). “I think the ability for us to meet families where they are and provide responses to real challenges for them has
really built this element of trust,” said Fortenberry, who is proud of the brand that Camp Harbor View has built within the city’s neighborhoods. Camp Harbor View’s credibility is critical to its recruitment efforts, which include reaching out to families who are most in need of what it has to offer. “This is not a ‘first-come, first- served operation, says Bard. “We spend a lot of time and energy finding families that need this support.” After the year that just ended, that need has only grown, which makes Bard more appreciative of the direction Camp Harbor View chose to take. “With what our kids and families are going through right now, our therapeutic work is more important than ever.”
Op-Ed: Mental Health Should be at the Forefront of Crisis Interventions on Campus occurring in society more broadly, where law enforcement remains a cornerstone of mental health crisis risk management on many, if not most, college campuses.
Nicole Green, Ph.D.
Executive Director of UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services
he growing national mental health epidemic among college students has been well-documented over the past decade, and, in response, many universities have significantly expanded their support and infrastructure to respond to students in distress, including increased staffing at mental health clinics, the creation of campus-
Isabelle Lanser, M.A.
Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
wide committees on student crisis intervention, and expanded case management services. However, due to the difficult and complex realities of managing student and community safety around mental health crisis, colleges and universities have relied on law enforcement to fill these gaps, mirroring the process
The current sociopolitical climate, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and student demands for more equitable care, highlight that now more than ever, mental health providers should to be at the forefront of mental health crisis response on campus. The association between mental health treatment and policing often contributes to the stigmatization and criminalization of mental illness and exacerbates inequities in access to care. For students of color and marginalized identities, for whom there are widely documented disparities in access and utilization of care, the prospect of police involvement may serve as a deterrent for seeking mental health services. Colleges and
universities should develop a new model for crisis intervention that considers the realities of 24-hour campus communities and the need for a more robust mental health response. This might include access to a 24/7 mobile mental health crisis team that can respond to student mental health crises in real time, wherever they occur on campus, including within housing, in classrooms, or in general common spaces, so that police involvement can be eliminated whenever possible and limited when necessary. This model should also include improved and expanded ongoing training for campus police, staff, and faculty on mental health crisis management, which includes training on health disparities and anti-racism as part of its core framing. In addition, the model should include outcome monitoring and followup services for students in crisis, which will likely require expanded funding for current college counseling services. The conceptualization and realities of a new model for mental health crisis management is not without its questions and concerns. Such a model raises concerns about confidentiality, student pri22
vacy, and perceived repercussions for students. Additionally, in the wake of high-profile incidents of violence on campus for over a decade, there are real concerns related to protecting the safety of the broader campus community, including the mental health providers who might intervene on site. However, we believe that the benefits of taking a mental health-centered approach to student crisis are clear. During a time of such high health and mental health need, mental health providers should take the lead in providing real time mental health crisis assessment, intervention and, if necessary, make decisions about hospitalization. Developing a more robust followup and wrap-around service system for students that need access to immediate mental health services offers a better way for universities to faithfully fulfill their duty to respond effectively to crisis and provide a safe environment for students. Implementing this model will require each institution to convene a group of leaders to identify gaps in their current mental health system and to consider nationwide best practices of alternative crisis responses that make sense in the unique context of each in-
stitution. UCLA campus leaders have begun to meet in the service of creating a system that is more robust and responsive to diverse student needs in real time and allows greater flexibility in helping students increase their readiness for clinical intervention. We hope to cast mental health clinicians as the primary providers of crisis response services to improve the experience of crisis support for students, particularly for those belonging to marginalized identities; better our risk assessment processes and procedures; expand campus-wide training and education; and expand follow-up services for students at risk of decompensating without additional care. Colleges and universities are well-positioned to develop and utilize a mental health provider-lead emergency crisis response team for psychiatric risk management and wraparound human services network. Students are demanding our action, and it is time to seize the opportunity to respond effectively to student concerns and radically change university approaches to emergency mental healthcare.
The Art of Being Well By Nichole Bernier
ami Chalom (UCLA ’19) had always enjoyed painting and used it as a way to express herself. So when she was choosing a final project for her class “Social Justice and Political Commentary,” painting was her medium of choice, and mental health was very much on her mind. The year before, her dear friend and sorority sister had committed suicide. Many people had loved her and cared about her, including the members of her rowing team. But none of them had known she was struggling with depression. Chalom decided to stage an art exhibition dedicated to expressions of mental health, and to curate pieces submitted by fellow students for a show in a borrowed campus space. “The entire rowing team came to the gallery. There was a huge turnout, and it was amazing. It was also
touching and sad, but they all said, ‘Thanks for doing this, it’s a kind of closure,’” said Chalom. “So often you hear someone saying they’re depressed or they suffer from anxiety, and you might feel uncomfortable getting involved. The whole purpose of the show was to raise awareness of people who are going beyond ‘feeling a little down.’” In much the same way, student concerns blossomed into a similar show at Texas A&M, when the Spring 2018 Artfest was dedicated to the theme of mental health. “In the six short years I’ve been here, I’ve seen a big shift in student expression, and students being comfortable talking with each other openly about their concerns. The exhibit was a direct consequence of that,” recalls Mary Compton, who advises student programming in the
visual arts at the Memorial Student Center. “It was a great way to see not just the creativity but also the mental health landscape of campus, because many students make their work very personal.” Tapping into the arts has long been an unofficial prescription for mental health issues. Self- expression through painting, drawing, singing, writing, film-making—you name it—has long been seen as a good creative outlet for a troubled mind. But it has typically been undertaken in a solitary way. The poet sitting alone under a tree, the student with a sketch pad in the corner of the library, the musician in the studio afterhours. College students today seem to be saying, we don’t need more solitude, we need more togetherness. So they’re throwing open the windows and literally giving fresh air 23
to cathartic creativity, staging public performances for open, artistic expression about mental health issues. At NYU, this is nothing new—perhaps not too surprising at a school with performative geniuses in every dorm, “The whole purpose of located in a city that the show was to raise tells it like it is. For more awareness of people who than a decade, students are going beyond ‘feeling from Tisch School of the Arts have kicked a little down.’” off each new year with a special collaborative performance for student orientation dedicated to mental health and wellness choices. It’s a song-anddance production called The Reality Show, designed to educate new students about issues they might encounter, how they might cope, and resources they can use. The show is held for the incoming class (plus transfer students) of about 7,000, in the primetime slot directly following the president’s address—a splashy evening, the only time they’re all in one space together—and held in major city venues like Madison Square Garden and the Beacon Theater. “The Reality Show was conceived in 2005, when we were coming off a spate of student suicides and creating a lot of comprehensive services that needed to be disseminated in a way students
could hear. We knew a bunch of administrators talking at students was not going to be effective,” says Zoe Ragouzeos, Executive Director of Counseling and Wellness Services at NYU. At the time, Tisch was fortunate to have Tony-nominated theatre director Elizabeth Swados on staff. The show she created broke the ice, broke down perception barriers, and ensured that all new students memorized the NYU Wellness Exchange number, which was repeated as a campy refrain. “It’s a fast and furious and outrageous hour. The minute we land one idea, we’re on to the next,” says producer Preston Martin, who was a student under Swados for the debut show and has been involved on the production side every year since. “We go serious for serious material, but the show is mostly comedy. I wrote a song about abstinence, sort of a cheeky number. With the material, we try to say, ‘We know you think this is going to be cheesy, so we’re going to take that and turn it on its head, so we’re one step ahead of you.’” The scripts are written and performed by the students—a cast and crew of more than 100 sophomores, juniors, and seniors who’ve auditioned for the privilege. It’s more
than just an opportunity for a large audience of peers and a good item for their resume; they are paid for their time and housed for free during the summer while they develop the show. To create the scripts, they have round-table discussions with Ragouzeos about each of the topics from a clinical perspective, plus visits from special guest experts. They filter the material and take it into writing teams very delicately, knowing people are coming in with a wide range of belief systems. “It’s a very direct show,” says Ragouzeos. “I remind them there are people in the room who’ve never seen people singing and dancing about sex, or never even imagined sex before marriage. There
are things in it that are hard to sing and dance about.”
during the pandemic you might really be alone.”
Fifteen years later, the show still puts the hard-to-dance-to topics all on the table: from discrimination and depression, alcohol abuse and assault, stress and sexual identity. The presentation changes year to year, and over time some of the topics have changed, too.
The concept behind “Show me how to cope” combines a person’s own mental health experience with bystander awareness. It offers language you can use with a friend in trouble, and suggests ways to move forward for someone who’s losing hope to help them find ways to rebuild their curiosity again.
“In 2005, we didn’t have the words ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ at the tip of our tongues as we do now,” says Martin. “Our mental health material specifically has stayed and grown, but the messaging is being healthy. The idea is centered on, ‘Show me how you cope,’ instead of saying, ‘You are not alone.’ Because
“We’re trying to get away from just giving answers and definitions, ‘Here’s the answer for mental health; here’s what anxiety is; here’s what depression is,’” says Martin. “These are the questions in the air, but maybe the way we’re asking is different and helpful.”
Photo courtesy of NYU
The Reality Show at New York University. 25
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is another college that capitalizes on its creativity to alleviate loneliness, depression, and other issues related to mental health. For more than ten years, the campus wellness center has put on a wide variety of multimedia shows on a range of topics: a series focused on compassion, one on resilience, one on disabilities, and so on. The Wellness Center just completed a major renovation of its space on the 13th floor of the Lakeview Building to not just create warmer, more welcoming counseling spaces, but to make room for an exhibition space. Once the pandemic allows for full, normal participation in classes and creative arts, the center will organize a show about dealing with the time of Covid-19. “We want to highlight how students were making sense and meaning out of the pandemic, and artwork is how to get through this thing,” says Joe Behen, Dean of the Wellness Center, who is a big believer in the healing benefits of group expressions of art. “The alone time with one’s own ideas is good, but art in community is different, because it brings interpersonal connection, and all the benefits that come from that. The connection in working on an art project is mental, but also emotional. It’s an in-
timate process, creating work collaboratively and sharing. The depth of the work often reaches audiences more significantly, which benefits both the artists and what they create, and is a model of connection for the world.” Pre-pandemic, SAIC partnered with The Foundation for Art and Healing to create group artistic experiences to combat loneliness. The Foundation was established 15 years ago by Harvard physician Jeremy Nobel, who was interested in the relationship between art and healing in the medical world—specifically, how creative processes impact recovery, and how isolation has negative physical and mental health consequences.
explains Behen. “We agree with The Foundation for Art and Healing that art-making can be the very best way to combat loneliness.” At Emerson College, the “Hidden Lantern” festival got its start a few years ago, when students formed an organization of the same name to put on festivals of artistic expression around themes of healing. As an unaffiliated club, it was entirely student-run, produced, and funded. Last year, it received approval from the Student Government Association to come under the college’s activities umbrella, so it will now benefit from school funding and marketing as well.
The UnLonely Project is one of The Foundation’s initiatives, including Aging UnLonely, Workplace UnLonely, and Campus UnLonely. SAIC’s work with Campus UnLonely attracted the interest of The Today Show, which did a twopart series in 2018 on fighting the American epidemic of loneliness.
“Basically, ‘Hidden Lantern’ means that we believe everyone has a light in them that’s just how you express yourself, and the organization helps them shine and helps artists to speak their truth. Our tag line is, ‘The healing power of artists’ expression’,” explains Kelly Sou, a senior majoring in visual arts and this year’s executive producer.
“For The Today Show, we brought together the Wellness Center’s support network for art-making experiences to highlight the connective powers to counter loneliness. Kate Snow (television journalist) got right in there creating artwork, too,”
“Wellness is the focus of the whole thing. We put it in our submission guidelines. ‘How does art help you through the struggle with mental health?’” She says the goal for the spring show is to have prerecorded performances broadcast together live via
YouTube, with artists on hand to do a live Q&A afterward.
performances throughout Boston, by Boston students.
At the core of these student programs, whether they are sponsored by a university or affiliated with an independent organization, is the desire to air out the reality, isolation, and misconceptions surrounding mental health. One such organization took Boston campuses by storm just before the pandemic took it by Covid. “This is My Brave” is an organization created in 2014 by Jennifer Marshall, a mother of two who has Bipolar Disorder. It was created to tell people’s descriptions of their mental health coping and recovery in staged storytelling events, much like The Moth. In 2019, Marshall sat up and noticed a new demographic appearing frequently among their storytellers.
“We put out a call for storytellers across Boston, and took 10 students from different schools, diverse and in different media, and we put on what was basically a traveling show. It was intended to visit eight schools, and visited Lesley College, Harvard College, and Tufts University. But the pandemic cut it short.”
“We had always had young people, but never a show that was all about college-aged kids. There were alarming statistics about young people and suicide, and we couldn’t ignore their needs. We wanted to create a program dedicated to young-adult mental health,” says Marshall. With funding through two Boston-area grants, an Alkermes Inspiration Grant and the Ruderman Family Foundation, she formed “This is my Brave: College Edition,” and began with multi-artist
The kickoff event at Lesley College was held “I remind them there on World Mental Health are people in the room Day, with a couple of who’ve never seen people the student performers singing and dancing presenting poetry, a few comedy—“it’s good to about sex.” be able to laugh about it sometimes,” says Marshall—and a few performing music, along with many offering straightforward storytelling. Te’zhuen Watson, a student trombone player at Berklee School of Music, heard about the auditions through campus posters, and knew he had to try out. “Mental health is not talked about enough, especially with young people. And as a musician, any opportunity I get to get onstage and perform, I’m going to do that,” says Watson, who deals with depression by expressing himself through music. “I definitely buried myself in music at a young age, and that type of self-awareness 27
of dealing with being down definitely helped me.” He rapped one piece, then played backup on the trombone with one of the other performers. But after the first event, his traveling with the group was interrupted by a terrible injury—a collapsed lung brought on by a challenging school performance. When he returned, he worried about whether he was capable of continuing, and whether it might happen again. But he was fine, and in hindsight, he believes it was worth the risk.
Until we are back to inperson gatherings, Zoom has been a stand-in for classes, mental health counseling, and socializing. It has also been a natural platform for artistic expression.
“What is clear to me in the pandemic is that video has tremendous potential,” says Behen of SAIC. “We see that our events can reach a far broader audience, not just the people to physically come into the room for an experience, but including people across the globe as both performers and audience. There’s so much power and potential there artistically that’s really wonderful – an opportunity for people to come in from other places and “We agree with The create even larger comFoundation for Art and munity – and I think Healing that art-making going to sustain after the pandemic.” can be the very best way
to combat loneliness.”
”It was incredible because it’s not just about the performing, it’s about the people. I was able to meet some beautiful people from different colleges and different backgrounds, and we shared our stories after performances,” he said. “I’ve always been open about who I am, and I’m glad I got to experience that.”
A Zoom event can be ambitious and global, but it can also be small, ordinary, and routine. At Texas A&M, students spent a month using live artwork sessions as a way to maintain their social networks and sense of connection. “Inktober” was a drawing-a-day challenge, done together during a brief daily Zoom session while they were remote in October. “It was just a daily group activity for connectedness
through art. They logged on and did a different drawing on a different topic every day,” said Compton, one of the school’s student programming advisors. “They’d look down and draw, then look up and show folks what they’d made when they were done. They really looked forward to the daily meetup.” Whether digital or in-person, when students undertake an artistic expression that shares something really personal, like a mental health struggle, or participates in a program like The Reality Show, it’s tantamount to putting themselves in the dark space and trusting that they’ll rise stronger. But there’s a certain spirit that is attracted to a project so intense, says NYU’s show manager, Martin. A spirit inclined to ascend with the challenge. “It’s moving, it’s hard work, and there are days that are bad, and they might not want to have to think about these things that are so tough,” he says. Something I say to them often is, ‘This is the superhero power of an artist, to invest in places most people might not feel comfortable going [to], reaching into the darkness, but then not staying — coming back into the light and reporting what you find there.’”
Q&A: Dr. Joanne Vogel, VP of Student Services at Arizona State University Interviewed By Marjorie Malpiede As head of student services at Arizona State University, Joanne Vogel has a big job at a large school with a major mission. Her multi-faceted purview within the Educational Outreach and Student Services department runs from mental health services and the Dean of Students Office to student organizations and student conduct. Despite her wide scope and ASU’s size (75,000 students and another 53,000 online), Vogel tries to stay as close and personal as possible in keeping with a culture that “feels smaller than it is” and a school that stewards its students towards success. According to its charter, ASU measures itself “not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes,” – a reflection of the pioneering philosophy of its president, Michael Crow, who has made ASU an example of the egalitarian and sociallyproductive school he describes in his book, “The New American University.” At ASU, the
students’ place is at the center of the university which, in turn, is judged on its ability to help them obtain their degrees. Vogel says there’s a lot that goes into that circle of support, particularly at a campus where students of color, low income students, and firstgeneration students are the majority. But given that ASU’s first year retention rates are better than the national average, it is clear that its inclusion agenda is paying off. Vogel says supporting students through to graduation, however they arrived on campus, together with the school’s commitment to its community, undergirds all they do at ASU. This is not to say that her dayto-day doesn’t consist of more specific worries like student mental health, substance use, sexual assault, and student safety, not to mention – COVID 19. We spoke with Dr. Vogel in the late fall as she and her colleagues continued to work around the pandemic’s disrup-
tion while planning for the potentially permanent changes it will bring to student life. Vogel believes ASU is well-positioned for both challenges with its early adoption of technology and its questioning of higher education norms that may no longer make sense. Here is an excerpt from our conversation: Mary Christie Quarterly: Student services at ASU is a very big part of a very big school. How is it structured? Dr. Joanne Vogel: ASU is massive. Some days it can feel like you’re running a city with all we have going on. But it is amazing to be part of a scope that is so wide. In addition to the Vice President of Student Services, we have two additional vice presidents; one focused on educational outreach and access, what you might think of as the pipeline work. The other is the VP of ASU Prep and ASU Prep Digital, our K-12 29
preparatory academies and charter school environment. This is all assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural, and overall health of the communities we serve. It is this last part that I really love. We truly are the “New American University.” This comes directly from President Crow. We talk a lot about being a university of service. We don’t wish to be perceived as an “Ivory Tower” institution that has little to no responsibility for our host community.
schoolers and high schoolers mingling with college students at the student union. It is an incredibly blended and comprehensive model we have.
you through graduation,” and that might bring you down in the rankings, but as President Crow will say, “Anyone who can succeed in an institution should have access to that institution.” In addition, we look at how those with interest who may require more readiness can prepare to enter the environment.
We believe it is the right thing to do for a whole host of reasons. If you look at the outcomes of this strategy on society [there is] higher financial gain, lower crime rates, [and] a whole multi-generational impact to this work. Our students Everything that are right with us is going on in our on this. We have a Photo courtesy of Dr. Joanne Vogel larger community is group called SPARKS ours to concern our- Dr. Joanne Vogel, VP of Student Services at Arizona and their whole selves with. If the State University mission is to go out educational envithere and spread ronment needs our the word, “If I can make it MCQ: Tell us more about assistance, we’re there. If the here, so can you.” ASU’s access agenda. How mental health of the commuhas that impacted the nity needs attention, then our MCQ: Is that hard to school? researchers, our talent, and achieve in a school so big? our time are focused there. JV: We don’t limit ourselves JV: I think if there is one to the A student which, from The work we do in K–12 as main ingredient to our spea retention and graduation part of Access ASU is a great standpoint, is the easier thing cial sauce it’s that for a place example. We run K through of our size, it is highly perto do. We let anyone in who 12 schools in two spaces sonalized. That comes from has demonstrated they are – ASU Prep and ASU Prep the top with messages from ready for university work Digital, which is really taking President Crow and invitaand we think can succeed off as a result of COVID. Our tions to email him directly. here. It is a bit of a gamble educational work starts early But we also get really creto say “We will find a place and is integrated into the ative around technology. We for you and we will support university. You’ll see middle have chatbots that interact 30
with students and alert people when need be. We think a lot about timely responses because we know that the more time goes by, the more students languish. MCQ: What has been your experience with the COVID-19 shutdowns? Given your online programs, did you have a bit of a leg up? JV: We made a commitment in the summer that we were going to bring back anyone who wanted to come back with strict COVID management protocols in place. We allowed the students to make the choice to be in-person, engage with us online through ASU Sync, or do a hybrid of both. I think it was easier for us to make the transition because we already had such a robust online learning platform, but it is important to remind people that our interactive learning platform is different from our online programs which are asynchronous. Like everyone, we figured out pretty quickly that not everybody was ready to use technology to its full advantage, so we spent a lot of time on training. MCQ: Let’s talk about student mental health. Have you seen this impacted by COVID? What about the trauma related to the police killings of Black Americans?
JV: As far as mental health, I’ve actually realized there are problems on both sides related to COVID, whether students came back to school or not. Some parents call me saying “I want my student to come back to campus because I think their mental health is suffering.” Then there are others who say their student is so isolated on campus because of all the protocols, they want them to come home. It is just a really hard time. We do a connections survey every year and the results indicate to us that loneliness and isolation have gone up and sense of belonging has gone down. It is playing out in the way we had predicted and I have a feeling we’d “I think if there is one see similar things in main ingredient to our the general population, but I do worry about special sauce it’s that for that. The response for a place of our size, it is us has been to be crehighly personalized.” ative about increasing the amount of in-person interactions we can provide while limiting the amount of people. This was particularly important for new students who don’t have large networks. So you’ll see 20 or so people outside all painting together spaced apart. We had a football gathering to watch the game last weekend and we had circles drawn out on the field and 31
big screens and we pulled in groups of 50 at a time. In terms of counseling, we are doing a lot of tele-therapy which we got up and running really quickly. Our peer-topeer programs are also particularly strong. We have a whole workforce of students that are “Devils 4 Devils” and they’ve been trained on listening and empathy. Given our size, scope, and staffing levels, the peer support work is really important to our mental health program. President Crow’s response to the police killings was really immediate. He released a 25-point action plan to better support Black students, faculty, and staff. He used the word Black, specifically, which was really important, because when we talk about our accessibility agenda, there are a lot of different groups who have been un-
derserved and underrepresented, so I think it was particularly important for our Black students to hear our president talk specifically to them. Student groups are a big part of my work here. I meet monthly with the Council of Coalitions, which are identity and affinity-based groups – the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, the Black African Coalition, Asian/Pacific American Student Coalition, El Concilio focusing on Hispanic and Latinx students, the Coalition of International Students, Rainbow Coalition, and the Women’s Coalition. Another group that has been really vocal in their needs is our Alliance of Indigenous Peoples who have the most differentiated outcomes. When it comes to student mental health, this is where size is our friend because we have an incredible mix
of counselors from all backgrounds. We also have people on staff trained in racial trauma. We’re also being flexible with some of our programs, like our support circles, which have become very popular. Our Black students wanted their circle to include faculty, staff, and students, which is different than how we’ve run them in the past. This was a moment in time when they said, “We don’t care about your rules and your focus. We want everyone in the community to be part of this.” We were okay with that because if you work in counseling or student affairs you know that most, if not all, of our focus is on the student. But I’ll also say that’s easier to do here than in other places I’ve worked. We do a lot of questioning of rules that no longer make sense.
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Interesting People Doing Important Work
Maya Enista Smith Executive Director, Born This Way Foundation By Dana Humphrey
ike many parents across the country, Maya Enista Smith got a new job last year – homeschooling her two young children. It’s a bit of a departure from her normal 9-5, or rather, her 24/7/365. Smith is the Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation, the youth-serving, kindness-promoting non-profit founded by pop star Lady Gaga (aka Stefani Germanotta) and her mother Cynthia Germanotta. Running an organization headed by an international superstar means Smith typically travels 70% of the time. “I hadn’t been home for more than two weeks at a time since my kids were born,” she says.
Foundation since the organization’s inception nine years ago. She was nine months pregnant at the time, managing a non-profit focused on youth civic engagement in Washington, D.C., when Lady Gaga’s management company called asking for a meeting. Excited and intrigued, she bucked medical advice and flew across the country to hear about the vision for the Foundation and pitch her ideas and herself. It was a “match made in heaven” – both Smith and Lady Gaga firmly believe that young people should have a voice, something Smith had been working towards her entire career.
Smith has been the day-today lead at Born This Way
Since that meeting, the Foundation has grown into a pow-
erhouse of various programs, all working towards building a kinder and braver world. Its mission comes from Lady Gaga’s personal experience with being bullied as a child. From a young age, she knew she’d dedicate herself to “making sure other young people not only survived but that they were able to thrive.” To that end, the Foundation has three stated goals: to make kindness cool, to validate the emotions of young people around the world, and to eliminate the stigma around mental health. In service of those goals, the Foundation developed programs like teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA), 33
“How can we make kindness be this muscle instead of this transactional thing?”
a partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health, which teaches high school students how to support their own mental wellbeing and recognize the signs of mental health and substance abuse issues in their friends and peers. “We know from research that young people often turn to each other, so we need to make sure that young people are ready for those conversations if a friend comes to them in crisis,” says Smith. “If someone reaches out and says they’re thinking of taking their life or struggling with a substance abuse issue, how do you meet that person with resources?” At the start of the nationwide shutdown in March, the program was up and running in 83 high schools as a pilot program. Now, the program is in nearly 200 schools, and pivoting to virtual training under COVID. Another initiative, #BeKind21 campaign, is close to Smith’s heart. “I know I’m not sup-
posed to have a favorite, but #BeKind21 is totally my favorite,” she says. The campaign is an invitation for everyone, including parents, teachers, and students, to practice kindness the first 21 days of the school year. The program first started at Smith’s son’s school, where as “kindness co-chair,” she asked students and teachers, “How can we build a habit of kindness? How can we make kindness be this muscle instead of this transactional thing?” She soon brought the program to the Foundation wherein the first year, 440,000 people signed up, resulting in over eight million acts of kindness. (Smith says this past year, 5.3 million people produced 112 million unique acts of kindness.) Channelkindness.org, another program of the Foundation, is an online platform that captures stories of kindness and community from young people. Smith developed the idea for the program as a response to the negative representation of youth in the media and press. “I was just sort of overwhelmed with negativity and felt like my generation was being painted with this apathetic, disengaged, and violent brush,” she said. She wanted to flip the script and tell a
different story about young people and their resilience, kindness, hope, and ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.” For Smith, working with young adults has always been a passion, even as she, herself, is barely out of the demographic. “I think there is something special about this generation of young people,” she says. “We, the millennials, are the most diverse, most tech-savvy, most collaborative, most hopeful...I think as generations continue to get younger, they’ll get even more collaborative, even more diverse, and even more hopeful.” She says that given all of the challenges young people are facing today – unemployment, student debt, political unrest – it is inspiring how they continue to be hopeful, build community, and practice kindness. “There’s something about their belief that they can and will change the world that makes me and so many other people want to leverage every platform and asset that we have to elevate this hope, this talent, and this resilience.” The need to cling to hope is a defining aspect of Smith’s life. As the child of immigrants, she watched her parents, originally from Romania, give up everything and rebuild their lives for the promise of
democracy, choice, and freedom. They struggled, hoping to offer her the chance for a better life. Then, on September 11th, 2001, Smith started her first class of college at Rutgers University. The aftermath of 9/11, Smith says, was a “moment where I understood the power of community, the need for connection, the desperation of finding hope.” And so she’s built her life and her career around it. Now, as the country faces a new, daunting challenge, Born This Way Foundation has mobilized its resources and relationships to respond
to the need they’re witnessing across the country. The Foundation established a Kindness in Community fund as a rapid response funding vehicle to support organizations working on the mental health implications of the pandemic and to invest in Black-led community organizations. “I think we are more aware than ever of the consequence of inaction right now because of how many people are suffering,” she said. Smith believes that we all have the power to effect change, and we can all find ways to give our time, treasure, and talent to uplift our communities.
In this environment, Smith is relentlessly aware of the privilege she enjoys. “The experience that some moms are having is not okay,” she says. She noted that food insecurity in Black families is up to 40% since the pandemic. “Anything that we can do to try and give people the peace of mind – that I don’t even deserve but that I’ve been privileged to have – is really where I spend the majority of my personal philanthropy. I’m always super grateful for the problems that I get to complain about.”
Mitchell Greene, Ph.D. Founder, Greenepsych Clinical and Sport Psychology
By Rory Kelly
itchell Greene, Ph.D., a lifelong athlete and sports enthusiast, applies his passion for sport and his expertise in clinical psychology to empower athletes
through their mental game. Greene, founder and leading clinician of Greenepsych Clinical and Sport Psychology, was inspired to explore sport psychology from one of base-
ball’s most famous enigmas: Chuck Knoblauch, the Rookie of the Year and four-time All Star Game player whose performance suffered from anxiety upon moving from 35
the Minnesota Twins to the dominant New York Yankees.
emotional health and wellbeing outside of sport.
“He was on one of the best teams in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees, and he could barely throw the ball from second base to first base...this was so fascinating to me.”
“Some people see me purely because they know I could help them in performance, but I’m not just a guy who’s going to say, ‘Here’s how you get motivated for the game’ I’m somebody who they could talk to beyond that.”
Greene’s questions-- how and why the baseball player’s performance suffered so dramatically after he had proven his prowess-- planted seeds that grew into his professional calling.
“For athletes, a lot of these inner conversations can be very selfsabotaging.”
After he graduated with his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Temple University, Greene led a private practice for children and adolescents for the first 10 years of his career. When the practice partnership ended, Dr. Greene saw it as an opportunity to focus his work.
“It was at that time that I took stock of a lot of things, and I always had this burning interest in sports, both growing up as an athlete and as an adult. I always kept my eye on what was going on in the world of sports in terms of the mental game.” After building his reputation in the Philly area as a clinician, Dr. Greene started seeing local high school athletes, helping them hone their mental game as well as their 36
Greene dove into college student-athlete mental health as his high school clients graduated, including some of his student-athletes, who faced some of the same pressures to perform while developing and learning in the new, more intense arena of college. At the same time, Greene’s own twin daughters, both high school athletes, were determining the role of sport in their college careers; one daughter deciding to explore options outside of athletics and the other pursuing the next level of competition as a collegiate athlete. Dr. Greene works with college student-athletes on a range of issues, including helping them manage “mind chatter,” a term Greene uses to describe the negative conversations athletes have with themselves that focus on doubts and second-guessing. Greene says these can get more pervasive as the stakes get higher. “For athletes, a lot of these inner conversations can be
very self-sabotaging. So, I spend a lot of energy trying to help them to manage that chatter in a way that doesn’t interfere with their performances on the field. And, frankly, I spend as much time, especially during the pandemic, talking with them about how to help not let it sabotage their efforts when they’re not playing.” Confidence is another facet of the mental game that Greene helps his clients develop and grow. Greene teaches them “Courage Over Confidence,” a mantra he trademarked to describe how a person does not need to feel confident about herself, and likely will not, when attempting to reach a new level of potential, and instead, relies on her courage. “[People] sometimes think there’s something wrong with them if they’re not feeling confident... it’s really hard to feel confident. It’s really hard for people now during a pandemic to feel confident that they’re going to go to school next semester. It’s still hard to be confident that their sport is going to look at all like it’s supposed to look, confident that they’re going to go back on campus, confident that their friends are going to be back on campus. “So, how to manage this idea that they don’t need to be confident is a big subject,
pandemic or no pandemic, on the field and off the field.” Many clients come to Dr. Greene looking for his guidance on developing identity outside of sport. Athletics, especially in college, can be all-consuming, determining many aspects of a person’s academic and social life. Some student-athletes find they are struggling to know themselves outside of their sport in part because they have invested so much time and energy into it. “College student-athletes need to figure out how to live life when they’re not playing or participating,” Dr Greene said. “How do you see yourself? What do you bring to the table? Who do you want to be beyond a runner, a basketball player, or a football player? There’s often not a lot of room for those conversations to happen, and I feel very privileged and take it very seriously that my office or my Zoom call is the kind of place where athletes can talk about these things that they may have never really talked about much before.” Greene noted that, over time, he has been talking with student-athletes more frequently about who they are as people, and not just as athletes. He believes this is due to an increase in mental health concerns in young people associated with the pressure
to perform, along with increasing awareness of the detrimental impact of poor mental health on individuals’ and teams’ general health and performance. Dr. Greene offers his clinical expertise in a variety of formats: one-on-one appointments, including virtual appointments with athletes all over the world; and workshops, both in-person and virtually, with teams, coaches, and athletic department staff. Greene sees the unusual circumstances and uncertainty of the pandemic as opportunities for clients to build their mental muscles. He says he enjoys supporting athletes and athletic departments in different ways. “One hour, I’m working with an athlete who’s trying to figure out how to get ready for the Olympic trials, and then the next hour could be the college athlete who’s trying to figure out if she should transfer from her school because her coach isn’t giving her enough playing time. Then there’s the coach who calls me saying, ‘I don’t know how to motivate this team. I feel like I’ve lost them.’” Dr. Greene is currently writing a book on his insights from his work with clients, particularly his experiences helping student-athletes improve their game – and themselves.
Co-Chair, COVID-19 Task Force of the American College Health Association By Marjorie Malpiede
After a long career in college student health, Gerri Taylor now finds herself at the center of the management of its current crisis. As the Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force of the American College Health Association (ACHA), Taylor co-leads a multidisciplinary team tasked with advising colleges on everything from re-opening their campuses, to protecting high-risk students, to advocating for vaccinating COVID facing health center staff against the pandemic. As a spokesperson for all things COVID and college health, Taylor has been quoted in dozens of national news outlets, appearing on the Today Show, Inside Higher Ed and in the New York Times. But despite her recent brush with celebrity, Taylor is not forgetting where she came from.
“This has been an opportunity for me to highlight the tremendous work that is going on in college counseling and health centers,” she said. “Every interview I do, I make sure to emphasize that.” Taylor recently retired from her role as Dean of Health, Counseling and Wellness at Bentley College in Massachusetts where she directed a collaborative health model that integrated mental and physical health as well as health promotion – a model she feels best addresses the changes that have occurred in college health over the past 30 years. “The quality and level of healthcare has increased dramatically over the time I’ve been in college health,” she said. “And that reflects the fact that we have students at college now that could never
have been able to be here years ago – students who are undergoing cancer treatment, students with cystic fibrosis students with heart, liver and kidney transplants. On the mental health side, we have students who suffer from depression, bipolar disease, students with autism, a whole range of mental health challenges.” Taylor believes students are best served on their campuses where practitioners work collaboratively to help get them back to their studies as quickly as possible. But to do so, she says, colleges need to consider the wellbeing of the whole student and the whole community. “It is inefficient and ineffective to work in silos.” Taylor is also a proponent of close collaboration between
administrative leaders and those on the frontlines, saying decision-makers need to understand what students are presenting with and not just when a crisis occurs. She believes student health professionals need to feel valued by the school community, particularly at a time when the combination of the student mental health crisis and COVID-19 have many caregivers feeling under siege. Taylor’s hands-on experience has been instrumental in leading the industry response to the COVID-19 crisis where science, health promotion,
More from the Frontlines Taylor says the Task Force will continue to advise colleges even as light emerges from the COVID-19 tunnel. Meanwhile, she is excited to pursue a new initiative that combines her personal experience with her industry-wide connections to provide a platform for thought leadership among college counseling and health center staff. It is called “FRONTLINES,” a sponsored feature of the Mary Christie Quarterly where Taylor will interview practitioners working directly with college students.
and practice have become enormous factors. She is very proud that she and co-chair, Anita Barkin’s team of 30 or so professionals from across the country are experts in their areas, inter-disciplinary and reflect schools of various sizes and profiles. Since March, the Task Force has issued two sets of reopening guidelines, as well as reports and/or surveys on numerous topics including contact tracing, testing, quarantine practices, vulnerable students, holiday break precautions, and, of course, mental health.
As an advisor to Christie Campus Health, a college mental health services company, (and a sponsor of the Mary Christie Foundation), Taylor will produce the feature four times a year. “The purpose of FRONTLINES is to share the experiences, knowledge and insights of frontline counseling and health care staff with other thought leaders in higher education to bring about a greater sense of understanding and appreciation of the complexities of the responsibilities of these campus stakeholders.”
In early 2021, Taylor’s efforts turned to vaccine distribution where she is once again advocating for her former colleagues at college counseling and health centers. In January, the ACHA recommended that college health professionals be included in states’ priority vaccination distribution phases. The task force has also provided guidance on issues such as appropriate cold storage, adequate locations for immunization clinics, security concerns, and health care staffing.
Taylor will debut the feature in April’s issue of the Mary Christie Quarterly with a captivating inside look at a college health professional in the “trenches”. When asked about the field’s response to the feature, Taylor said, “In my experience, student health professionals will do all they can to improve student outcomes and if sharing best practices and new approaches can help do that, they will surely take the opportunity.”
Op-Ed: A Path Towards Identifying Suicide Risk Factors in College Students
health challenges. Given all of this, it may not come as a surprise that suicide rates are also rising. Suicide should be a particular concern for universities, as suicide is the second leading cause of death in the college student population.
Danielle Moskow, M.A.
Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student Psychotherapy and Emotion Research Lab, Boston University
ollege students are experiencing anxiety rates at an all-time high, with contributing factors that are beginning to be understood. The isolation and loneliness of the pandemic are only compounding the risk for students experiencing mental
Most research highlights the relationship between depression and suicide, however, not everyone who dies by suicide is depressed. As a field, we are lacking in our understanding of who is most at risk for suicide. Although the field continues to do research within this area, prediction models have historically lacked accuracy in identifying who is most at risk. As suicide rates continue to climb, it is crucial we continue to investigate risk factors and identify key warning signs that may predict oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s risk.
For instance, little is known about the association between suicide risk and anxiety. To address this gap, I am working with Sarah K. Lipson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Public Health and co-Principal Investigator of the Healthy Minds Study, using Healthy Minds Study (HMS) data, which collects information from a national sample of college students with the aim of understanding issues related to studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mental health. We are studying the prevalence and correlates of suicidality and anxiety amongst college students, aiming to identify risk factors that may shed light on who is most at risk. Preliminary analyses of the data reveal that high rates of anxiety may be associated with increased risk, particularly for students who are also experiencing depression. In addition to anxiety,
there are likely other important factors to identify as well, which could serve as indicators for early intervention. For instance, hopelessness is known to have a significant relationship with negative affect and suicidality. Similarly, I would speculate that loneliness may be a symptom linked to suicide risk. Future research of ours is aiming to delve more deeply into this topic. Much of the field is shifting towards understanding psychopathology at the symptom level, rather than studying diagnoses. In the Boston University Psychotherapy and Emotions Research Laboratory (led by Dr. Stefan Hofmann), our research is focusing on process-based treatments, with the goal of understanding and targeting specific symptoms and processes of treatment change for individuals. Process-based therapy (PBT) emphasizes the importance of function over content and is based in identifying and testing key change processes that build upon each other in order to best treat the indi-
vidual in a particular context at a given time. College campuses may benefit from assessing for suicide risk in relation to anxiety, and as the research continues to focus on symptom identification and risk analysis, we can expect to learn about new indicators to effectively target and treat.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Little is known about the association between suicide risk and anxiety.â&#x20AC;?
From my experiences thus far working with college students in the therapy room as well as my work as a Teaching Fellow, it is clear that our students are struggling. I believe we need to pay attention not just to diagnoses, but to underlying symptoms and risk factors. Once we have identified more of these risk factors, we can disseminate this information more broadly, to help inform policy and practices across college campuses. I hope our research and findings from other researchers can continue to pave the way to find reliable and valid ways to assess for suicidality and effectively intervene and treat students in need. 41
Building Community and Mental Health Support for Young Adults with Chronic and Rare Diseases By Rory Kelly
hile many of us have spent much of 2020 learning to live with uncertainty, isolation, and fear, those with chronic and rare diseases are well-acquainted with these challenges. Advances in medicine and technology have increased the number of young people diagnosed with chronic and rare diseases and have allowed them to participate in coming-of-age experiences like college and early career. But being a young person diagnosed with a chronic or rare disease while navigating emerging adulthood – a period marked by massive cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development – can exacerbate the intensity of these transition years.
Sneha Dave, an Indiana University 2020 graduate who was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of six, recognized the unmet needs of this growing community and founded Health Advocacy Summit (HAS), a nonprofit that aims to connect and empower young adults, ages 13 through 30, with chronic and rare diseases through advocacy events and programs. HAS was born out of an earlier effort to build community through a quarterly newsletter called the Crohn’s and Colitis Teen Times. It was started by Dave and her best friend Corey Lane in 2012 to inform and connect young people in Indiana diagnosed with Crohn’s, colitis, and Irritable Bowel Diseases. When
Lane died due to Crohn’s and osteosarcoma, Dave was determined to expand the effort and founded the Crohn’s and Colitis Young Adult Network to further connect the community built by the newsletter. Health Advocacy Summit is the Network’s iteration and an opportunity for young people with chronic and rare diseases all around the country to meet one another and share common concerns. Summit conversations feature topics like navigating the education system and the workplace, the difference in available accommodations in high school compared to college, financial planning, and narrowing in on a career. A major goal of HAS is fight-
ing the isoluation that often comes with having a chronic or rare disease. As a medical necessity, young people diagnosed with these conditions may distance themselves from emotionally protective elements such as social support, involvement in group activity and developing hobbies like a sport or theater, not to mention long-anticipated traditions like prom.
emotional and mental health, as she remembers it not seeming as critical as her ill body. But she be“I have been seeing many lieves the role of mental specialists throughout my health among those with entire life and never once chronic and rare illnesses, which has long gone have any of them asked unrecognized, is gainhow I was coping with my ing traction. Awareness conditions.” around mental health for those with chronic and rare diseases has grown in the past couple of years as has the field of shorter than HAS’s daylong disease-specific psychologists in-person summits, these “A lot of times it’s so hard to – though not at the pace that weekly meetings allow more connect with other people is needed. frequent opportunities for with these invisible condicommunity members to tions, because it’s just some“I have been seeing many connect and converse. The thing that you can’t see and it format alternates between specialists throughout my enseems like all of our peers are casual discussion and a tire life and never once have going out, partying; they’re any of them asked how I was conversation with an invited living what a normal young coping with my conditions,” guest speaker. The weekly adulthood would look like,” said Caroline Walsh, a junior discussions have included said Dave, who believes studying public health and topics such as antiracism in that meeting her best friend social work at Curry College the community of those with through their common jourin Milton, MA. medical disability, navigatney has changed her life. ing employment, and mental Walsh became involved with health. HAS’s first gathering in 2017 HAS in March after finding brought together 14 young the organization through a From the beginning, mental people with chronic and rare health has been an integral YouTuber, Danielle Nelson diseases from Indiana. After of Chronic Cafe, who posted piece of HAS and was a topic a successful launch, the Sum- at its inaugural summit. Dave HAS content on her Instamit hosted additional forums says, “It was the first time gram story. HAS’s pivot to in North Carolina, Texas, online programming made for a lot of us to discuss the and San Francisco in 2018 it easy for Walsh – who has mental health challenges of and 2019. COVID-19 forced Turner syndrome, Psoriatic growing up with a condition a change of plans as the six arthritis, and Hashimoto’s that realistically we’ll probUS-based summits planned thyroiditis – to engage with ably not have a cure for in for 2020 turned into one inthe community. She got inour lifetime.” ternational virtual summit in volved in the weekly meeting August which drew over 300 for young adults and teens, Dave found that much of the participants worldwide. the meeting for high risk and attention and care she received in her life centered on chronically ill students, as In addition to this, HAS bewell as the Virtual Summit in her physical health and negan hosting weekly virtual August. glected to support her socialmeetings in March. Though 43
“[Members of the HAS community] have given me an opportunity to share my experiences with others and for that I am eternally grateful,” she said. “I was able to connect with people who were on the weekly calls and receive support with the hardships that I face with chronic illness as well as provide support to others. And on both ends I’ve learned so much about advocating for myself as a chronic illness patient.” During the Virtual Summit, Caroline found the mental health session and gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s keynote address – in which she spoke about her journey
with chronic illness and her mental health – to be inspirational. She has since started a monthly support group for women with Turner syndrome. “Through my conditions, I have developed a level of empathy and acceptance towards people who are sick that people who are not sick just can’t have, and I have been inspired to use this superpower to help other people,” she said. HAS spent much of 2020 implementing new programming in response to current events, including the Keep High-Risk Students Safe cam-
Photo courtesy of American Association of People with Disabilities
paign, which was in response to the fact that many schools’ reopening plans were developed without the input of high-risk students, including those with chronic and rare diseases. HAS published an online resource guide to assist students as they navigated the reopenings while managing their medical disability; launched a survey to gather insights from the many perspectives of students with chronic and rare diseases; and advertised the weekly support group meetings which started in March. HAS’s Vote! campaign sought to empower patient voters, including HAS’s community, by informing them of voter registration and mail-in ballot deadlines and a general election guide. Dave is pleased to note that attendees report feeling less alone and less overwhelmed following summits and the HAS team is looking to a future with more of them. They hope to host an in-person summit in August 2021, continue their weekly meetings, and expand advocacy efforts like the Keeping HighRisk Students Safe and Vote! campaigns. Despite the pandemic hindering in-person summits, HAS hopes to build off of the international momentum gained through the virtual summit in August and continue to expand the community to even more young people with chronic and rare diseases around the world.
Imagining the Future with the Student Flourishing Initiative Marjorie Malpiede
hen great minds think alike, anything can happen, which is why the Student Flourishing Initiative might just succeed in starting a wellness revolution in higher education. Begun by David Germano, Robert Roeser, Mark Greenberg, and Richard Davidson, the Initiative uses scholarship on human flourishing from the sciences and humanities with training in contemplative practice to improve students’ wellbeing and prepare them for a good life. The four colleagues from three separate universities are promoting these practices as a way of addressing the widespread mental health crisis among college students, made worse by the disruption and isolation of the pandemic. But if this aim weren’t high enough, they are also urging colleges and universities to recognize that flourishing is not just an
antidote to this distress, but also is a core aim of a liberal arts education around which colleges and universities can organize. “There are really two main goals here,” said Greenberg, the former Director of the Prevention Research Center at Penn State and a founding father of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), an approach to education that focuses on human development. “One is that we are very concerned about what’s called the ‘epidemic of anxiety and depression’ among young people. And the other is we are examining the role of the university in student wellbeing which, in my opinion, has lost its ability to teach in a broad way about what it means to be human.” Germano, a religious historian at the University of Virginia and Director of the school’s Contemplative Sci-
ences Center, says the effort involves both personal and institutional processes of change. He sees the examination of flourishing in education as both an opportunity and a moral imperative. “The most compelling challenge we face in higher education right now is what we can do to begin to address this crisis of wellbeing among the youth in our institutions in ways that can be scalable and sustainable,” he said. “If we as institutions and individuals who are key stakeholders in that institution are not engaged in fundamental reflection, innovation and transformation, we are morally culpable and morally compromised.” Germano and Greenberg, together with Roeser of Penn State, and Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, came together to form the Initiative based on several com45
“We are examining the role of the university in student wellbeing which, in my opinion, has lost its ability to teach in a broad way about what it means to be human.” mon interests and inquiries. While the scholars come from different disciplines (e.g., religious studies, psychology, human development), all were involved in research on how contemplative practices, mindfulness, and compassion training could be deployed and shared with students, faculty, and staff in a broader way. A major connection was their work with the Charlottesvillebased Mind and Life Institute, whose mission is to bring science and contemplative wisdom together to create positive change in the world, as reflected in the teachings of the Dalai Lama. The colleagues were curious about how this work could be applied to education, specifically to college students, as rates of anxiety and depression increased each year they were reported. At an Indian restaurant in
Madison, Wisconsin, the Student Flourishing Initiative was launched with the idea for a course that would eventually be called “The Art and Science of Human Flourishing.”
The interdisciplinary course, which each university now teaches, helps students to develop skills and perspectives that support individual and collective flourishing. It is designed to knit together academic and experiential learning to help students understand and practice flourishing – a term that means living a full and fulfilling life of meaning, purpose and a sense of belonging, the exact conditions a large percentage of college students say they lack. Just as sociologist Corey Keyes purports that good mental health is not simply the absence of poor mental health, flourishing is a state where joy and suffering are equally experienced but in ways that lead to resilience and growth. Two of its main tenets are self-reflection and agency, and the capacity to make meaning out of suffering on the road to flourishing. That is, flourishing is not the absence of suffering in this view, but something that
constitutes and motivates the path of flourishing. With an adaptable curriculum, the course can be taught at a wide variety of institutions. Greenberg says it is perhaps even more important in less resourced schools like community colleges where questions about who you are as a person are often overlooked in the pursuit of a vocation or trade. The course makes clear that individual and collective flourishing are intertwined. “You can’t have a good life without caring about others in one’s community, because our lives are fundamentally interconnected. Doing work for others to ensure justice, equity, and our mutual welfare is critical to flourishing,” said Roeser, the Bennett Pierce Professor of Care and Compassion who teaches the course at Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. “When one reads the world’s great traditions on flourishing, they all seem to agree that one’s self-interest, though critically important, is simply too small of a sphere out of which to create a life of deep meaning and fulfillment. The key to flourishing, it seems, lies beyond the self.”
that wellbeing can actually be learned,” said Davidson, a neuroscientist, who directs the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin. The mission of the center, and its non-profit affiliate, Healthy Minds Innovations, is to cultivate wellbeing and relieve suffering through scientific understanding of the mind. While not specifically focused on college students, the center’s work on wellbeing and neuroscience has direct application to the college mental health crisis and the role of higher education in the wellbeing of its students.
Photo by Oluremi Adebayo
To explore these conjectures, Roeser’s course meets three days a week and involves learning the skills of flourishing – awareness, connection, insight, and embodiment – and then practicing them through exercises like focused attention meditation. “Doing something is different than knowing something,” he said. “These different kinds of learnings complement one another and that is what the data is showing the students
are taking away – both skills and knowledge.” Grounded in the science of neuroplasticity, the Student Flourishing Initiative reinforces the notion that selftransformation is possible but requires practice, selfeffort, and community. “All of this work, in one way or another, is rooted in the comprehensive framework for understanding the plasticity of wellbeing – the notion
“The college student period is particularly important as the brain is still undergoing massive reorganization,” Davidson said. “We believe the interventions during the college years, and potentially just before, have important consequences for life.” When asked if this is an opportunity for colleges and universities to build better people, Davidson called it “a critical need.” “This is an age group in which there are very significant reports of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, all of which have pernicious effects that have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” he 47
said. “In talking with college counselors, it is clear they don’t have the capacity to handle the consequences of these problems. They need something else and they need it fast.” Davidson distinguishes flourishing work from traditional college counseling where practitioners are trained to treat problems. “When we look at students, we don’t see what’s wrong with them,” he said. “We see what’s right about them; we ask them to identify their strengths and we nourish those strengths because we really believe that’s the key to fostering wellbeing.” Davidson’s group has developed an app—the Healthy Minds Program (see: tryhealthyminds.org) with flourishing content as well as the ability to aggregate data. It is deeply incorporated into the course taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and can be used by anyone in the world. He hopes classes like The Art and Science of Human Flourishing will be required for every first-year college student. “I really think it could make the world a better place,” he said.
“All of this work, in one way or another, is rooted in the comprehensive framework for understanding the plasticity of wellbeing – the notion that wellbeing can actually be learned.”
Over the last four years, the three universities have worked together to share data and study outcomes of the course. A recent evaluation of course graduates found them to be less anxious and depressed with a better mental health in the COVID-era than control group members. After the pandemic hit, the three universities made the course available to their students online, which also allows it to be more broadly distributed.
The Initiative already involves another 10 or so additional schools, most of which have centers in contemplative studies and are interested in the philosophy behind the course. The schools include Brown, Stanford, Washington University, and Emory which, among others, are referred to under the broader term, the ‘Flourishing Academic Network.’ As the Student Flourishing Initiative evolves, Germano asserts it is just the beginning of “something much more all-encompassing. He and other colleagues are working
on a blueprint for a full transformation in higher education they are calling the “Flourishing University” – aided by a digital repository of best practices and recommendations that put student wellbeing at the center of the university’s mission. In developing the university concept, Germano is thinking deeply about what is causing wellness erosion in today’s young people with theories about digital exploitation and relentless change. He is asking challenging questions: What facets of university life – from the application process to the lecture hall – are infringing upon students’ wellbeing? And he seeks changes to the flourishing context typically used in North America, believing it to be overly normative and lacking diverse voices. Germano hopes the examination will bring a new vision for what flourishing looks like in today’s world, and what a university of flourishing might be.
Science Summary A recap of research worth noting. By Dana Humphrey
COVID-19’s Impact on Student Wellbeing
A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that COVID-19 mitigation protocols like remote learning and stay-at-home orders had a modest, but persistent, impact on mood and wellness behaviors of first-year college students. Surveys were conducted during the Spring 2020 semester at the University of Vermont, with 675 first year students completing a full assessment of behavioral and emotional functioning at the beginning of the semester, and 485 students completed nightly surveys of mood and wellness behaviors on a regular basis before and after the onset of the pandemic. The study observed that students displayed increased levels of behavior and attention problems from the start of the semester-preCOVID-19-to the end of the semester. However, students’ experiences of the pandemic varied; students with perceived greater personal disruption caused by the pandemic experi-
enced an outsized impact on wellbeing. The results also highlighted differences between students enrolled in UVM’s Wellness Environment (a program that encourages students to make healthier decisions and features educational and residential components) and the general student population. Researchers found that students enrolled in the WE program had improved mood levels and fewer attention problems compared to the non-WE students. Lead author William Copeland, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine, said “We suggest that colleges and universities track students’ emotional health and develop specific protocols to support mental health for those that struggle. This study also suggests that wellness programs like UVM’s may increase social support and support student resilience in the face of ongoing disruptions from college life.”
New Framework for Wellbeing
In a new paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin Madison introduce a new evidence-based framework for emotional wellbeing that focuses on specific, learnable skills and practices. The plasticity of well-being: A training-based framework for the cultivation of human flourishing, by Cortland Dahl, Christy Wilson-Mendenhall, and Richard Davidson highlights the four core dimensions of wellbeing: awareness (or attentiveness to one’s
Despite Worsening Mental Health, Students Not Reaching out for Help
Despite numerous sources pointing to a worsening of mental health overall for college students, many are not using the available mental health resources at their colleges. According to a September Active Minds survey of around 2,000 students nationwide, about 75% of students reported that their mental health has declined under the pandemic. Alarmingly, in a CDC survey conducted in June, one in four young people (ages 18-24) reported that they had “seriously considered” suicide in the past 30 days. And according to a survey released by NASPA,
environment and internal cues), connection (or a sense of care toward others) insight (referring to self-knowledge), and purpose (as in understanding one’s own values and motivation), and identifies ways to develop wellness along each of these dimensions. The researchers say this framework does not replace previous wellbeing theories but focuses only on aspects that have been shown to improve with practice in daily life. Research projects at the Center for Healthy Minds and UW-Madison are currently using the framework to promote wellbeing, showing promise.
while 56 percent of students say they are very or somewhat anxious about the coronavirus pandemic, a majority (77%) have not used mental health support services at their colleges. Many reported turning to parents or friends for help, a result echoed in Active Minds data (in which 66.89% reported an increase in supporting others with their mental wellness.) The NASPA survey of 3,500 undergraduate students also found that about one third were not sure what mental health resources were offered by their college.
Increasing Concern among College Presidents
The latest Pulse Point survey from the American Council on Education showed that college and university leaders are increasingly concerned about the mental health of their students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the survey of 268 college and university presidents, nearly 70 percent of presidents identified student mental health as among their most pressing issues. In the previous iteration of the survey, released in October, only 53 percent identified it as among the most pressing issues. Over 66 percent of all presidents reported an increase in the utilization of mental health services due to COVID-19. Many are implementing different strategies to support the mental health and well-being of their campus community. For example, 59 percent reported that their institutions have “invested in virtual or tele-therapy services” and about 30% reported examining their institution’s policies,
programs and systems that support mental health. ACE also recently released a mental health guidebook for leaders thinking about ways to promote and foster positive mental health and wellbeing, highlighting what institutions should consider when convening mental health task forces. In Mental Health Task Forces in Higher Education, researchers Hollie M. Chessman, Darsella Vigil, and Maria Claudia Soler analyzed 16 task force reports from 15 institutions in the last 10 years, categorizing all 469 recommendations contained within those reports into the three themes: focus on the overall campus culture and climate, improve access to services and support for mental health, and make administrative improvements that are long-term and sustainable, requiring changes to policies, protocols, and procedures.