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Mary Christie Quarterly A publication of the Mary Christie Foundation

Q&A with Molly Broad of A.C.E. p. 09 Formation and Flourishing at Georgetown p. 26

Sea Change: An Essay by Julio Frenk

p. 14

Issue 5 | First Quarter | 2017

Mary Christie Quarterly The Mary Christie Quarterly is a publication of the Mary Christie Foundation, a thought leadership and philanthropic organization dedicated to the health and wellness of young adults.

STAFF Publisher & President Editor & Executive Director Program Manager Staff Writer & Communications Coordinator

Robert Meenan Marjorie Malpiede Dana Humphrey Ashira Morris


John Sexton

Vice Chair

John P. Howe, III

Vice Chair

Michelle Dipp


Robert F. Meenan


Marjorie Malpiede


Amy Feldman


Frederick Chicos


Robert Caret

CONTE NTS 04 Mental Health Game Plan 09 Q&A: Molly Broad 12 Opinion: HBCU’s Role in Supporting Students of Color 14 Sea Change: Viewing Student Health as Public Health 18 Opinion: Supporting Students in Uncertain Times 21 Q&A: Timothy Sands 26 Formation and Flourishing at Georgetown 33 Young Voices: Educating to End Sexual Violence 36 Science Summary

Cover art by Daniel Chang Christensen Spot illustrations by Jia Sung

Mental Health Game Plan At the University of Michigan, Athletes Connected is making mental health an accessible topic for student athletes By Ashira Morris WHEN Emily Klueh was had a two-year stint in Califor- Athletes Connected is a colswimming for the University nia with a professional swim laboration between the Uniof Michigan, her struggle with body image, self-confidence, and desire to perform athletically at a high level manifested as an eating disorder.

Her coach noticed and recommended that she see one of the counselors within the athletic department. She took his advice and worked with Greg Harden, who is now the Executive Associate Athletic Director of student athlete health and welfare, for the rest of her time on the swimming and diving team. Through their sessions, she was able to work through her challenges with self-confidence and self-acceptance and learned to establish healthy, preventative habits for her overall mental health. When she graduated, she competed as a professional swimmer for Team USA, continuing to use the skills she learned from her work with Harden. After graduating, she 04

team and then returned to Ann Arbor to complete a master’s degree in social work – as well as finish out her professional swimming career – inspired by the support she had received from Harden. “I wanted to be able to give back to student athletes and impact them how he impacted me,” she said. “I wanted to be an advocate not just for mental health issues but for taking ownership of your mental health.” She’s now a program coordinator for Athletes Connected and an athletic counselor in the Athletic Department. Athlete’s Connected is a program launched by the University of Michigan in 2014 to make student athletes more aware of mental health issues and more comfortable seeking help. Immediate response to the program surprised even its founders and advocates.

versity’s School of Public Health, the Depression Center, and the Athletic Department, based upon the understanding that student athletes face a stronger stigma and higher barriers to treating their mental health. Given the “no pain no gain” mentality present in sports, they often feel expected to tough out difficulties instead of being vulnerable. Help seeking can be perceived as a weakness. Previous research on student athletes notes that they face both internal and external pressure to perform at a high level. Student athletes are often campus celebrities and role models who strive to appear perfect while suffering the debilitating stress that can come from seeking that very perfection. There is also a belief among student athletes that being open about a personal health issue could cause a coach to

Photo courtesy of Athletes Connected

Daniel Eisenberg, one of the leaders of the Athletes Connected program, delivers the presentation to the University of Michigan’s varsity sports team coaches. All coaches saw the presentation and have been an integral to the success of the program.

put them on the bench, or make their teammates less confident in their ability to perform during a game. Over 20 percent of student athletes report symptoms of depression. “We know that is hard to get

student athletes to be willing to ask for help,” Barb Hansen, one of the school’s Athletes Department counselors, said. “Any opportunity we can have to try and help our student athletes feel freer and more comfortable to ask for help, the better.”

Statistically, Klueh’s experience working with a counselor was uncommon. Roughly 70 percent of student athletes who could benefit from help do not utilize mental health resources. Athletes Connected is changing those numbers on the Michigan campus.


“I’ve really seen a shift in conversation,” Klueh said. “We’ve seen student-athletes taking ownership of their mental health. I see that stigma going down.”

They reached out to Barb Hansen in the Athletics Department to draft a proposal. The team received full funding from the NCAA to run a pilot program. In September of 2014, after convening an advisory council of students, coaches, and counselors, the program launched.

an educational overview of mental health as it relates to student-athletes, followed by the screening of two videos of student athletes discussing their personal struggles with — and coping mechanisms for — mental health issues.

The program was initially conceived by Daniel EisenThe videos featured former berg, an associate professor UM athletes Will Heininger, a in Michigan’s School of Pubfootball player talking openly lic Health, and Trish Meyer, about his dethe Program pression and Director for the tactics he Outreach and Edu- “I’ve really seen a shift in conversation. We’ve uses to mancation at seen student-athletes taking ownership of their age it, and Kally Fayhee, the school’s mental health. I see that stigma going down. ” a swimmer Depression who discussCenter. Both - Emily Klueh, Athletes Connected es her eating professiondisorder and als indebody image pendentAthletes Connected consists issues, as well as her coping ly noticed that the National Collegiate Athletic Associa- of brief, high-production-val- strategies. tion was awarding grants for ue videos designed to reduce “I learned that depression is projects specific to mental stigma and encourage stua diagnosed illness,” Will says dent athletes to seek help health in student athletes. Eisenberg and Meyer had pre- and develop coping skills; in- at the end of his video. “It’s viously worked together on formational presentations to common, especially among the Healthy Minds Network, all coaches and athletes; and college students. It can be an ongoing interdisciplinary informal support group ses- treated. Because I opened up research project on the men- sions facilitated specifically and got help, I became a better football player, a better tal and emotional health of for student athletes. student, a better friend, and a young adults. The introductory one-hour better person.” presentation consisted of 06

The strength of the videos is their candor: Both portray mental health as a counterpart to the physical health management that athletes are so familiar with: something that requires healthy habits of its own, so it doesn’t become a crisis. The narrative videos have shorter companion videos focused entirely on coping strategies. The student athletes from the videos were available after the presentations to answer questions. The presentation also included information about how to support a teammate who might be struggling and strategies for self-care. It wrapped up with information about athletic counseling and the Athletes Connected drop-in support groups. Every University of Michigan student athlete saw the presentation. So did the Athletic Department and all varsity team coaches, who were on board from the beginning. Some coaches were part of the advisory council that informed the videos; some ap-

peared at the end to explicitly state that they will support their athletes who come to them with a mental health concern. “We realized coaches were key to whether or not this program would be successful,” Meyer said. The coaches see their athletes daily and often develop close relationship. Many student athletes cited retribution or lack of understanding from a coach as a reason they would not seek help for a mental health issue. By bringing the presentation to the coaches first, Athletes Connected could assure students that their coaches understood that taking the time to take care of their mental health would make them perform better on the field, and wasn’t a sign of weakness. The response to the program was strong and swift. In the fall of 2014, every sports team at Ann Arbor saw the Athletes

Connected sentation.


After watching the videos and having an open conversation about the mental health options available to them, student athletes filled out a survey. Sixty-three percent reported that mental health had hurt their performance in last four weeks. Nearly everyone said they were likely to use the information presented. The athletics counseling center received 40 new appointment requests following the presentations — the biggest surge in appointments Hanson has seen in her decade in the athletic counseling office. “Our goal now is to keep conversation going,” she said. “We can’t be a one-hit wonder.” Now, every incoming freshman student athlete gets the full presentation. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors receive short follow-up ses07

sions, with an emphasis on preventative mental health care. After the first year, some of the athletes have taken it upon themselves to be unofficial ambassadors for the program. Michael Hendrickson, a junior pitcher for the baseball team and the current president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, put promoting mental health and wellness at the top of his agenda as president. Under his leadership, SAAC formed a mental health subcommittee within the advisory group, bringing together athletes from different teams. Hendrickson, who was a freshman the first year Athletes Connected existed, found Michigan to be a progressive, open environment. Unlike his high school team, where the barriers to bringing up mental health concerns were high, he felt comfortable talking about them in college right from the 08

beginning. “Michigan does an amazing job of making everyone feel at home here,” he said. “Athletes Connected is by athletes, for athletes. Administrators can put programs in place, but there’s no guarantee of buy-in from student athletes.” The subcommittee is working on a policy to create mental health liaisons on each team. These student athletes would be trained to facilitate conversations around issues ranging from coping strategies to suicide prevention. “You’ll have at least one person in every locker room who has been trained by mental health professionals to have these conversations,” Hendrickson said. But beyond the work that they’re doing, the simple fact that the subcommittee exists as an offshoot of the original Athletes Connected effort

shows the cumulative effect of starting something important. To Eisenberg, the peer-topeer encouragement is huge. “The personal stigma is not very high,” he said, “but they are often worried about their status on teams or with their coaches and showing weakness to others.” This fall, the Athletes Connected team produced a new video focused on preventative mental health care featuring a member of the men’s gymnastics team. They have begun meeting with individual teams for casual discussions about prioritizing mental health and making self care easier. The program will continue to grow and adapt, but the core message to student athletes is still the same: Your mental health deserves to be strengthened, stretched, and discussed just as much as your physical health.

Q&A: Molly Broad The President of the American Council on Education reflects on the role of higher education Interviewed By Marjorie Malpiede

Interviewing Molly Broad about her perspective on American higher education is like winning a 60-minute shopping spree at a store of your choice. There’s just not enough time to get everything you want. As President of the American Council on Education (ACE), Broad presides over the country’s largest and most comprehensive association of colleges and universities, including public, private, four-year, and two-year schools. Before coming to ACE, Broad held executive leadership positions at several institutions of higher learning, including Syracuse University, California State University, Arizona University system, and the University of North Carolina where she was president until 2006. Though nearing retirement, Molly Broad remains fully immersed in the current and complex dimensions of higher education policy, from petitioning Trump’s travel ban to exploring social media’s impact on student mental health.

The economist turned college administrator is also proud to uphold the traditional values and virtues of “the Academy,” including access to economic opportunity, freedom of expression, and the long-held view that higher education leadership ought to be about service to the institution. Elegant and down-to-earth, Broad is deeply committed to ACE’s history as an innovator in credentialing non-traditional academic paths, something she believes will be key to addressing the country’s skills gap. Broad gives up her post this October as ACE begins its 100th anniversary activities, but it was clear from my “60 minutes” that Molly Broad has a lot left to say. Mary Christie Quarterly: How would you describe the primary goals of ACE? Molly Broad: We have four main components including advocacy, but one of my goals has always been to draw in the history and the DNA of

ACE, for which advocacy was a late-comer. We were created in 1918 when the soldiers returned from World War I to a jobless economy and we were then called the Emergency Council on Education. We were always linked to the military. After World War II, many of the guys who had enlisted had dropped out of high school and couldn’t take advantage of the GI bill, so we were called on to create alternative credentials. Since 1941, we have owned and operated the GED. This has been a very important part of our work and by extension we have developed a deep registry of academic faculty members that can make assessments of the academic quality of these alternative ways of learning just like we did when we evaluated military courses to determine if they were worthy of credits. MCQ: Is this kind of work still relevant today? 09

MB: Yes, more than ever. We have a huge skills gap in this country. We’re way behind on increasing the number of individuals who have knowledge and skill to meet the economic needs of today and tomorrow. For the president to talk about closing the borders at this time is very disturbing. I also think there’s going to be a huge backlash when the reality sets in that you can’t turn on a dime and restore traditional manufacturing jobs no matter how many borders you close.

influencing public policy is to speak with one voice, despite the richness of the diversity of our institutions. We invest a lot of time in reaching a consensus.

We also play a big role in leadership development. We’re in the 52nd year of something called “ACE Fellows.” These are individuals who are faculty members or department chairs who are interested in taking a larger administration role, and we connect them to one or more universities. They get to sit next to the presidents We hope to soon launch an and see them sweat while not effort to identify individuals having the responsibility for whose skills or knowledge the decisions that are made. can help them advance in MCQ: Talk a bit about the their jobs. It will be our job to role of college presidents. certify all of that. How have you seen this posiMCQ: What are some of tion change over the years? your other priorities? MB: I think the conditions MB: There are six major uni- of higher education have versity organizations, which changed so dramatically over include the research-inten- the years, and that has made sive universities, the publics, the office of the president

We have a huge skills gap in this country. the privates, the two-years. We are commonly referred to as “the six,” and I chair that. We meet on a regular basis on all major policy issues. Our position is that since we don’t have financial resources, our most effective way of 10

very difficult. There’s so much complexity within all of the dynamics. The president’s job is mostly external. They’re fundraising, calling on alumni, going to the government to defend their funding. When the 2008 recession hit like a

bomb, legislatures saw their tax revenues nose dive. The largest discretionary source in state budgets is higher education, and that is where they went. We are still, in real terms, below the pre student funding that we were in 2008. MCQ: What about student affairs issues, from mental health to sexual assault: What changes has you seen, and how are presidents reacting? MB: I think there’s so much more that we know about today regarding how young people develop. Frances Jensen (in “The Teenage Brain”) talks about how incomplete college student’s brains are when they come to us and how different the pace of development is between males and females. I do think there are a lot of things going on here that we don’t fully understand. As far as the presidents’ reaction to all this, I think they feel enormous pressure from all constituencies. I think presidents feel far more at-risk. I see presidents who have five declarative statements, and they never change them because of self-protection. They say, “I’m just going to stick to my script.” I understand why presidents don’t want to take risks, but this is not how higher education is meant to unfold. The

Photo by Eric Krupke

Molly Broad, President of the American Council on Education, in her Washington, D.C. office.

more experienced presidents understand this, and we have seen great examples of leadership in this area.

and we’d be able to track each student to see where they are having trouble. The artificial intelligence and cognitive sciences are going to enrich the MCQ: You are retiring in high ed experience and our October. What are some of ability to reach more people. the things you’d like to see happen or continue at ACE? We’re also working on learning more about social media’s MB: There is so much oppor- impact on issues like student tunity to improve higher edu- health and wellness. cation, and technology is going to play a huge role in that. This enormous tool has so I don’t think we’re that far much power and has, to a away from where you could large extent, caused so much be online or on a campus with distress. How can we use that a thousand students taking the in a positive way to counter same course at the same time the negative impact it has had

on the emotional and psychological health of students? MCQ: What are you most looking forward to in retirement? MB: I will remain active in American Higher Education, but am ready to return home to Chapel Hill and to spend time with my loving family.


Opinion: HBCU’s Role in Supporting Students of Color By Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA ness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.

Wayne A.I. Frederick President, Howard University

AS I reflect on Howard University’s storied history of 150 years of excellence in truth and service, I am reminded of how essential health and wellness is to this nation and Howard University’s ensuing influence. According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Well12

Although we often focus on our physical health, it is essential that while we exist in a politically charged and polarizing environment, we continue to cultivate a culture of total wellness. Thus, Howard University has increased its focus on the well-being of our entire student body population, faculty and staff. We are working diligently to highlight the importance of mental health awareness. Despite the significant strides made over the years, racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of African Americans. Adult African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to report severe psychological distress than adult whites. Adult African-Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites.

And while African-Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide as teenagers, African-American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than white teenagers (8.3 percent v. 6.2 percent). As the 17th president of one of the nation’s leading HBCUs, I consider it my responsibility to ensure that Howard University remains at the forefront of advocating for the resources necessary to ensure that students are being nurtured in a conducive and accepting learning environment. It is important Howard provides an environment for students where they can feel open to express their sensitivities and seek the help they need to maximize their potential as the future trailblazers and provocateurs of this world. In alignment with the Mary Christie Foundation’s dedication to the field of student health and wellness, Howard, alongside the nation’s other

historic and groundbreakIn addition, ing HBCUs, U niversity must conduct Despite the significant strides made over the Counselthe research, years, racism continues to have an impact on the ing Services teaching, and provides clinical care mental health of African Americans. these serthat seeks vices to the to eliminate Law School health disparstudents at ities and protheir campus and to student vides service to the most vulAdditionally, training pro- organizations upon request. nerable among us. grams are available for med- Currently, a series of biweekly Howard University remains ical students and residents presentations are being proinvested in providing exem- for adult psychiatry. Specifi- vided to various residence plary education, service, and cally, The Howard University halls for the residents. research that promotes pa- Counseling Services engages I intend to ensure that Howtient-centered, collaborative in a wide variety of outreach ard University continuously events each semester. Every care and advocates for the elimination of health dispari- event has a teaching compo- has access to the resources ties. As one of the top 50 most nent about mental health. Pre- needed to make mental health funded psychiatric research sentations addressing signs of a priority across our campus. facilities in the U.S., Howard’s distress on topics such as drug I look forward to using this active research program com- and alcohol usage, domestic season to focus on health and plements patient care. Our violence and sexual assault, wellness and hope that you University counseling ser- stress management, test anx- will do the same so that we vices are geared toward in- iety, depression and suicide, can work collectively to be a creasing self-understanding, anxiety and relaxation tech- healthier community. autonomy, and personal de- niques, and hazing are also provided to university resivelopment. dent assistants, graduate assistants, faculty, and staff. 13

Sea Change Viewing student health as public health By Julio Frenk, MD, PhD, MPH, MA

AS a college president with health of students for a vari-

a long career in public health, the term “student body” takes on a particular meaning when addressing student health and wellness. From a public health perspective, students are viewed as individuals as well as a population that can be examined in the aggregate with an eye towards anticipating and preventing challenges.

These two ideas — a holistic approach involving whole groups and the idea of proactively preventing problems before they start — are the essence of public health. This view can be particularly valuable in addressing the mental, emotional, and behavioral 14

ety of reasons, not the least of which is the cost

pus, we create a knowledge gap that inhibits our planning for needed capacity; we miss the opportunity to support students at risk, and we negatively impact important university goals, from graduation and retention rates to our ultimate responsibility to develop healthy, constructive citizens. Seeing the Big Picture, Starting Upstream

of not doing so. If colleges and universities only react episodically to mental health issues on cam-

R a t h e r than looking at incidents of mental health challenges one student at a time, the public health professional tries to understand patterns by looking at the entire population of students. Those populations are, of course, formed by individual

people, so a population perspective doesn’t mean that we don’t pay attention to individual characteristics, especially when a person requires care. But to understand and develop the strategies and techniques for intervention, we need to look at the entire population, including those who may not exhibit any symptoms or lack access to care. This is particularly important in addressing the mental health of young adults. We need to treat those who are ill and protect those who have high-risk factors. We also need to understand the difference between what is an outright diagnosis of mental illness, and what is part of the normal human condition that can become problematic when environmental factors disrupt the equilibrium separating healthy from unhealthy responses. When someone is facing a challenge and seeks care, we of course have to respond with high-quality, accessible, and affordable services. But in

public health, we proactively start a step before, and we try to stop problems before they become manifest. When we know they will occur regardless of our efforts, we try to be prepared.

Other “wellness” strategies involve mindfulness, balance and stress reduction, regular sleep and good diet, as well as activities that take students outside of their own individual pursuits.

These premises lead to a strategy based on four components that are extremely relevant in addressing the problems we’re seeing in the health and wellness of university students. These interrelated areas are: promotion, prevention, protection, and preparedness.

Prevention means adapting specific measures to address risk factors that can lead to disease. Specific prevention in mental health is complicated because of its etiology. The causes are very complex, so it’s not so easy to find specific preventive measures like a vaccine—though we are learning more about effective ways to intervene before mental health manifestations occur, including drug and alcohol abuse.

Health promotion is the proactive effort to empower people to lead healthy lifestyles. In the college setting, this can include facilitating physical activity, engagement in athletics, and participation in community-based activities. We know that all of these have very important effects in reducing issues of isolation that can lead to a number of mental health problems.

Protection, from a public health perspective, means keeping students from harm. This is particularly relevant on college campus when it comes to sexual assault, acts of violence and forms of bullying and harassment, as 15

well as controlling access to alcohol and other addictive substances. Closely related is preparedness to respond to extreme incidents like active shooters on campus, and making sure there are procedures in place to keep students safe. Adding to these cornerstones of public health is the culture of measurement—using metrics to assess the phenomenon itself, as well as trends over time. For example, in the case of emotional distress, this involves everything from examining how common it is to understanding the risk factors that predispose the appearance of the problem. And, of course, we must measure the effects of our interventions. If we’ve done something, did it work? Did it not work? And to what extent? Measurement is the common foundation to the four pillars of public health. 16

Sharpening the Focus Like any approach, there are challenges in adopting a public health framework to student health and wellness that must be identified and addressed, the first being an understanding of the boundaries of the problem. Mental health includes a whole spectrum of situations. On one end, there are discrete, specific diagnoses like depression, but there are also mental health formations from other diseases. And this works both ways. When someone is given a diagnosis of a very serious disease like cancer, for example, it triggers a mental health consequence such as anxiety. In the opposite way, emotional problems act as triggers for a variety of somatic problems. Every non-mental health problem has a mental health dimension. Then there are the usual behavioral and emotional as-

pects of human existence that aren’t necessarily categorized with a diagnosis, such as being in a bad mood, having an explosive temperament, or being sad for a variety of reasons. We don’t necessarily have to medicalize these conditions, but if we don’t pay attention to them, they can escalate into full psychiatric diagnoses. We need to have a comprehensive view so that we can understand the different elements that go under the rubric of mental health, and treat them accordingly. Fortunately, there has been great progress made in our scientific understanding of the root causes of many of these issues. The second challenge we must overcome, for a variety of very practical, as well as moral reasons, is stigma. Stigma interferes with people seeking help; it interferes with management of the problem; and it interferes with measurement. From a public health per-

spective, the single most important priority we have on campus is to de-stigmatize mental health problems. Part of this effort involves normalizing emotional issues so that we capture those at risk, as well as those who are ill. College student face enormous pressures that can trigger deep emotions; they can be upset, angry and very worried about a variety of issues including academics and relationships. Acknowledging this helps students reach out and get help without the fear that a diagnostic label will necessarily follow. This is where counseling becomes so important as a step in preventing progression to a much more clearly defined psychiatric diagnosis. The same approach is needed with substance abuse. To the extent that we can avoid criminalizing the person who’s abusing substances, and treat him or her as a person who needs help, we are able to bring in a lot more people who may not have come forward in the past. I think we’ve

made progress in this area, but the challenge now is the increased demand for those services.

tations and responsibilities. This includes an obligation to society as a whole — which, in part, finances higher ed-

If colleges and universities only react episodically to mental health issues on campus, we create a knowledge gap that inhibits our planning for needed capacity.

Finally, collaboration and shared learning are critical components to our full application of public health strategies in student mental, emotional, and behavioral health. When we evaluate interventions, we should share that knowledge. We can’t afford to rediscover things that have worked elsewhere, or worse, to make mistakes that others have made but kept to themselves. Fulfilling the Social Compact Higher education involves a social compact where multiple parties have both expec-

ucation through taxes and philanthropy, and gains from it in the form of a well-prepared citizenry. For college administrators, this compact involves assuming responsibility for the overall success and wellbeing of their students in addition to their education. Seeing student health through a public health lens will help society achieve this vital aspiration. Julio Frenk is the president of the University of Miami and the former Minister of Health of Mexico. Prior to joining UM he served as dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 17

Opinion: Supporting Students in Uncertain Times Perspective from the JED Foundation on the stress faced by the most vulnerable students on campus By Victor Schwartz and Nance Roy campus, and to address these issues with strategies that are tailored to the unique needs of the students at risk.

Victor Schwartz, M.D. Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine Chief Medical Officer, The JED Foundation

Nance Roy, Assistant Clinical Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine Clinical Director, The JED Foundation

THESE are stressful times students, first-generation stu-

for colleges and universities. Uncertain immigration policies, continued financial insecurity, and a polarizing political narrative have had a particularly harsh effect on a large portion of our higher education community. The students most impacted by these stressors — foreign 18

dents, and minorities — are already more likely to feel isolated and less likely to seek counseling in the face of a crisis. As clinicians in the field of young adult mental health, we urge college administrators to be mindful of the increased levels of stress and anxiety on

Uncertainty — coupled with an inability to take steps toward solving a problem — is a well-established feeder of anxiety. Students impacted by the changes in federal immigration policies, including the last iteration of the travel restrictions, are desperately seeking answers from administrators who are still working through the details. College presidents have been vocally supportive of foreign students though they stop short of giving answers they don’t have. This offers a thin salve for students who may already be in a difficult position emotionally, still adjusting to a new country, culture, and lifestyle. International students are a group that we, at the JED Foundation, consider to be at higher risk of isolation and

disconnectedness, key factors in emotional distress. They are disproportionately underrepresented at the counseling centers, perhaps due to the same cultural issues that make them uncomfortable seeking help.

campus mental health support system. The JED Foundation’s model for addressing mental health and substance abuse on campus is predicated on two fundamental principles that we believe are extremely relevant to this current situation. One is that student mental health and well-being is a campus-wide responsibility; the other is that any success-

Everyone on campus has a role to play. One of the best ways to reach students who are not likely to self-report is to create a strong message that there are many places on campus they can go for support.

The same is often true of For students of different cullower-income and first-gentures who may worry that eration students who may be they will be misunderstood or less likely to engage in camunwelcome, it has been helppus life. With work and famful for administrators and facily obligations, they often have less time to All of this leads to the unfortunate irony that students whose join clubs and social- emotional health is most impacted by the current volatility on ize with college campuses are also those most likely to fall through the peers who cracks in the campus mental health support system. can support them emotionally and identify problems if they ful strategy in this area must ulty to exhibit subtle signs on arise. receive the full support of the their office doors, or messagpresident and his or her se- es on their syllabi, indicating These are often the same stu- nior leaders. that they are open and willing dents who have been targets to listen. of the aggression and diviThe first principle speaks to siveness of the 2016 campaign the value of inter-campus co“Gatekeepers” such as resseason, which was mirrored operation. idence hall staff, academic on campuses across the counadvisors, faculty, and even When it comes to identifying try. The increased tension fellow students should know among student groups, from and supporting students in how to recognize and refer a religious to racial to political, distress, it is critical that ad- student who might be strugleft marginalized students ministrators work together. gling. While the JED FounThe international students’ dation has a comprehensive particularly vulnerable. office may be dealing with a gatekeeper training program, All of this leads to the un- visa issue, but should also be much can be done by simply fortunate irony that students mindful of that same student’s paying attention and asking whose emotional health is psycho-social state. That may questions. most impacted by the current mean reaching out to counselvolatility on college campuses ing or to the chaplain’s office This is particularly true of are also those most likely to as part of working through faculty, who are most likely fall through the cracks in the the problem. to witness problems and re19

main the most relevant point of contact for students. Acknowledging that they are on the front line, faculty appreciate the value of a “tool kit” of resources and some level of training, but it needn’t be complicated, time-consuming, or intimidating. Just taking three to five minutes to have a conversation with someone after class can be very powerful.

It is always the role of the president, provosts and EVP’s to send a consistent message of support for students’ mental health in both their words and actions. This is especially true in times of uncertainty. Campus leadership should continue to de-stigmatize mental health and substance abuse issues by talking about them open-

ly and consistently, and resist the tendency to cut programs in areas like wellness and suicide prevention to alleviate budget pressure. Perhaps most important, presidents can set a tone that helps create stronger campus communities that welcome and support people of different backgrounds and cultures.

Stay informed. Read

The MCFeed

The Mary Christie Foundation’s weekly roundup of news and research on the health and wellness of young adults



Q&A: Timothy Sands The President of Virginia Tech on student health and safety, where it has been, and where it’s headed Interviewed By Marjorie Malpiede

When speaking about the mission and culture of Virginia Tech, Timothy Sands sounds more like a philosopher than a PHD in science and engineering. Sands became president of VT in 2014, well after the school had successfully transitioned from a traditional land grant college into a multi-disciplinary institution offering STEM degrees as well those in the arts and the humanities. One of Sands’ jobs is to take the state university to the next level involving an even larger culture shift. Having achieved academic balance, Sands hopes VT will apply a transdisciplinary approach to becoming an authentically diverse institution with a worldwide impact and reputation.

a college focused on “agriculture, military service, and engineering,” the school, which sits in the middle of two mountain ranges in Appalachia, had been predominantly white, with an all-male student body until women were admitted in 1921. Though there have been efforts in the past to increase diversity and gains have been made in gender, the school is not yet where Sands says it needs to be in this area. His motivation ranges from expanding the talent pool, to social justice, to ensuring all students are prepared for the 21st century.

Not only does Sands understand where VT has been, he has Like many change agents, a vivid vision of Sands is a quick study. While where it needs to he has only been on campus go. Globalization a little over two years, his requires students to be better knowledge of “Hokie” history prepared for the interconnectis spot on, as is his assessment ed world in which they will of the students who choose to live and work. This means that go there. Founded in 1872 as hailing from a homogenous en-

vironment will be a disadvantage for students if they are lacking empathy, curiosity, and the life skills to collaborate with people from all cultures and backgrounds. Meanwhile, demographics demand that the school attract new pools of students, including minorities, first generation, and lower income students. Sands has set very ambitious diversity goals through a new initiative called “InclusiveVT” and in August 2015, he challenged the university community to engage in a visioning process to view “the university we aspire to become in a generation’s time.” The project, called “Beyond Boundaries,” focuses on student preparedness and creating the campus of the future, among other goals. Student affairs and student health and wellness are a large 21

part of Sands’ agenda, due to what he says is VT’s moral imperative to lead in this area after the tragic 2007 mass shooting by a mentally ill student, and partly because he clearly believes in the power of people and relationships. He talks often of developing the “VTshaped student” and incorporating the school’s mission “Ut Prosim” (that I may serve) into all of university life. In his office overlooking the university’s iconic Drillfield on an unusually warm day in February, Sands talks about VT’s aspirational agenda, student health and safety, and why he thinks the traditional financial model for higher education is broken. Mary Christie Quarterly: How would you describe Virginia Tech’s environment? What kinds of students come here? Timothy Sands: There is a very strong sense of community in Blacksburg and at Virginia Tech. I think that most people who come here for the first time feel it right away and it creates a filter. You are either attracted to it or you are repelled by it. If it is a priority for you to be engaged in a community where people will want to know and support you, then VT shoots way up your list. If you really want to study a specific thing and be left alone, this isn’t the place for you. 22

When I first arrived here, we commissioned Gallop to interview our alumni for the Gallop Purdue Index and what we learned was fascinating to me as a newcomer. Forty-two percent of our alums reported having a strong, emotional attachment to the institution, while our peers are at 18-22 percent. MCQ: Isn’t the community feel sort of unusual for a school so focused on STEM? TS. VT is very different. We aren’t an MIT or a CalTech. There are only a handful of schools like us that have both a strong STEM component and then something else like business or liberal arts. We have a new initiative called Beyond Boundaries, which was a challenge for the university to imagine what we would be like a generation from now. In that, we talk about the university of the future being driven by a transdisciplinary approach that defies the confines of today’s higher-ed systems, even further eliminating the STEM/ non-STEM dichotomy. Related to that is something we call the “VT-shaped student,” which is about integrating the university experience across artificial boundaries based on majors and disciplines. This effort also involves creating intentional learning opportunities that

build capacities such as a commitment to curiosity, pursuing self-understanding and integrity, practicing civility, courageous leadership, and embracing Ut Prosim (our motto) as a way of life. Ut Prosim – “that I may serve” – was developed some 120 years ago from the Corps of Cadets, which are still very active on campus today. Originally, service was about leading your team into battle – and not just metaphorically – but actually taking the hill in front of your troops. It has morphed from that original idea into something that is more inclusive and centered around preparing yourself, harnessing your skills and pursuing your passion so that you can be of maximum value and ability when you leave Virginia Tech. We have a lot of people here who would say, “Hey, I’d really like to solve this problem for humanity.” MCQ: Currently, about 12 percent of your students are underrepresented minorities. You say you want to increase that to 25 percent by 2022. Eventually, you would like to see 40 percent of VT’s enrollment be made up of minorities, first generation and low-income students. That is a very ambitious goal. Where does this come

Photo by Jim Stroup

Timothy Sands, President of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech, in his Blacksburg, VA office. Sands joined the university in 2014, bringing a vivid vision for the school’s future as a global and diverse institution.

from? And how do you plan on achieving it?

There’s obviously a social justice aspect to it.

TS: What we’re trying to do is prepare our students for the world they are going to be entering and that is one that involves different perspectives, with difficult conversations that you don’t get in a homogenous environment. Diversity makes for deeper conversations and stronger solutions.

When you talk about service, you need to think about whom you are serving. You’ve got to have experiences around a developing group of people whose experiences are very different than your own. It is not only the right thing to do; it is necessary for our ad-

missions goals to recruit from new pools of students. We have to ask ourselves “Why is it that two-thirds of the talent out there doesn’t even look at Virginia Tech? Is it because we are perceived to be a predominantly white institution that won’t work for them?” If so, we’ve got to change the way we look.


We’ve been doing very well from suburban high-income areas of Virginia, but in the urban areas, the rural areas, we have not done very well. Some of it is money but a lot of it is community. There’s a lot of data out there on critical mass where you get to a certain point in terms of representation that it becomes self-propagating in terms of recruitment. We are aggressively recruiting in areas where we see opportunity to bring in new profiles of students.

We needed to solve this problem with ingenuity that is distributed, not centralized. Part of the model was to decentralize it by closing down the diversity office and hiring a new leader in this area (Menah Pratt-Clarke from the University of Illinois who is now Vice President of Strategic Affairs and Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity) who could facilitate all of the many efforts going on.

Everyone had to propose something within their own spheres and departments so We have made diversity and we have dozens of initiatives inclusion an urgent issue at going on in this area going Virginia Tech. We call it “In- on at once. There was some clusive VT” – that means it is a pushback because some peopart of everything we do. ple got the feeling we were sort of pushing this down On my first day as President, their throats, but we didn’t there was a report on my desk back off. We just kept saying, about flipping the model for “We’re going to do this. The diversity and inclusion so conversation is starting now.” that it wasn’t seen as an “office down the hall,” but rathI felt that a big part of this er something that everyone at had to start with me so I made the university needs to be ac- myself VT’s “chief diversity ofcountable for. ficer.” Not that I took on those duties specifically, but if I’m I really appreciated this ap- not the one talking about it, proach because and if the Board I had worked on isn’t backing many diversity me up on this, initiatives in the it isn’t going to past and had seen happen. the weakness in the traditional Our challenge model. Diversity now is to turn was always someour commitone else’s purview ment to diverto handle. sity into action. We’re making 24

progress. The freshman class of 2016 was the most diverse ever. MCQ: Diversity and inclusion is obviously related to student mental, emotional and behavioral health. What developments have you made in this area, and how has the tragedy of 2007 impacted your programming? (Note: This April is the tenth anniversary of the mass shooting incident of 2007 where a VT student and lone gunman killed 32 people. The school is acknowledging the tragedy with a series of events intended to remember the victims and support survivors and families.) TS. With mental health and wellness, you always think about safety concerns on campus because these issues are tied together. “April 16” had Virginia Tech and the whole country rethinking all of that. Being that this happened here, Virginia Tech had to be at the forefront of major changes in this area. I think because of what we went through, our programs in mental health, wellness, and violence prevention are very strong. We were early adopters of innovations in safety and security, and that make us one of the safest campuses in the country. I think the strength of our community was a huge factor

We have an integrated approach to health and wellness here where five units form a leadership team that integrates physical activity, mental health, nutrition and physical health, alcohol and drug programs. We have a new As far as mental health and Hokie Wellness department wellness, we spend a lot of that works with all departtime and attention on this. ments on campus and strives The Gallup work we did ap- to provide care in three ways: plied to current students prevention, intervention, and as well as alumni. We were reaction. able to look at health dimensions and where our students This is also a very fitness-oriwere most stressed. Like most ented campus with most stuschools, we’ve seen an in- dents taking advantage of crease in counseling appoint- our geography and weather. ments year to year, which in Nutrition is a big priority for many ways is a good thing. as well. Many of the people who work in the counseling center, in student health and wellness issues, in campus police remain impacted by April 16 and have that on the top of their minds at all times.

other schools and I think a lot of that has to do with people feeling like they’re part of a community. MCQ: What are your biggest challenges? TS: I’d say keeping an eye on what kind of institution we want to become and not being distracted by the day-to-day push and shove. A big problem here is that the financial model for higher education is really broken. States are dealing with so many budget constraints, and higher-ed is on the losing end of all that.

We have lost sight of the public good One of I think because of what we went through, in the work of our prothese instituour programs in mental health, wellness and grams that tions. The state has been violence prevention, are very strong. system model very efhas shifted so fective is far towards the the QPR private good program students (VT ranks among the model that I don’t think we which stands for Question, best in terms of dining ser- can come back. The idea that Persuade, and Refer. QPR is vices). education is really only about offered to all faculty and staff the private value to the stuand is required training for Again, we believe our strong dent is worrisome. I think all RA’s. These are the people community model is key to Virginia Tech has done a very on the front lines, the people wellness. About 37 percent good job of keeping that at who are living in the first and of our on-campus students bay and keeping the public second year residence halls are in residence communi- good in mind. who see the students most ties or other “living learning” likely to engage in risky be- communities like the womhavior, those who are ques- en’s engineering community. tioning their surroundings or I really think these smaller experimenting with going off communities help students of their medications. succeed. We have a fairly high graduation rate compared to 25

Formation and Flourishing at Georgetown Georgetown combines institutional values with new thinking in student health and wellness By Marjorie Malpiede GEORGETOWN Universi- portunity is both unique to DeGioia is a moral philosty is currently immersed in the school and instructive for opher who is devoted to a student mental health and wellness effort that is deliberate, comprehensive, and potentially transformative. It is called Formation and Flourishing, a title chosen for its intent to use what we know about young people’s development to create a university experience that is joyful and meaningful as well as academically enriching.

others. Drawing on the works of philosophers and psychologists and immersed in the best practices in the field of student mental health and wellness, Formation and Flourishing seeks to understand the drivers behind the steep rise in demand for mental health support services that is evident at colleges and universities everywhere.

Formation and Flourishing is not so much an initiative as it is an exploration and a stated desire to provide a more emotionally attuned environment that will promote social, emotional, and relational learning at a school that attracts some of the brightest students in the world.

“Formation and Flourishing is about both culture and programming,” said Georgetown President John (Jack) DeGioia, the force behind the effort whose own development was shaped by 40 years at the school, many of those in student affairs.

The premise for Formation and Flourishing is the assertion that academic life provides an unparalleled foundation for the work of personal formation. Georgetown’s approach to harnessing this op26

“We want to learn as much as we can from around the country and apply that to strengthening our programs here in a way that makes a tangible difference in the lives of our students.”

Georgetown’s Jesuit foundation, including its motto “Cura Personalis,” to care for the well-being of the whole person. His adherence to the Jesuit mission has shaped his major decisions, including the school’s recent historic move to atone for its early participation in the institution of slavery, through engagement with descendants and a memorial on campus. Earnest and self-effacing, DeGioia downplays his obvious intelligence with humor and humility. Colleagues describe him as the regular guy at the plenary session who knows more than anyone in the room. Jack DeGioia went to Georgetown as a teenager in 1975. He became a resident assistant (RA) as an undergraduate, a dorm director in graduate school, and, years later, in 1985, the Dean of Student Affairs. After holding several leadership positions at the school, including academia’s

Photo by Mylan Torres

Jack DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, speaks at the Mary Christie Foundation’s Presidents’ Colloquium at New York University last fall.

equivalent of COO, DeGioia assumed the presidency in 2001. DeGioia launched a formal process for Formation and Flourishing about a year and a half ago but he has been

thinking about it for over three decades, starting with his years in the dorms as the first point of contact for students in distress. The difference, he says, between those days and today, is that we now have the resources and

knowledge to move beyond protecting our students to helping them flourish. Constructing the Safety Net Given the Jesuit framework of “mind, body, soul,”


Georgetown was perhaps exThen, as in now, he focused disorders, and sexual assault. Addressing student mental ceptionally aware of student on the trends. health at Georgetown is now mental health early on. As “The statistics tell us that a classic case management RAs, DeGioia and his peers were trained back in the ‘70s schools should expect that model where key players into recognize challenges stu- a third of our kids, at some cluding counselors, profesdent were experiencing and point, will cope with depres- sors, and coaches meet every to refer them to the help they sion; that 15 percent will be week to review the profiles of needed. Each residence hall predisposed to have alcohol- the people they’re tracking, had a licensed psychologist ism as part of their future; some 30 or 40 at any given or psychiatrist that met with that 15 percent of women 17 time. the RA’s reg“It is fair to ularly to say that when catch students at Formation and Flourishing is Georgetown’s it comes to the risk. They attempt to move beyond the safety net using safety net, I called it the fusion of science, psychology, and religion am obsessed,” DeGioia ad“constructto create a university environment focused on mits. “When ing the safeyou come to emotional and relational learning. ty net.” a community like ours, and Developing you’re expethe safety net continued when DeGioia to 24 have eating disorders. riencing a problem, I am just was head of student affairs. How do we identify these not comfortable with saying To reduce waiting lists for students and get them into a we didn’t do absolutely evcounseling, he combined the setting where we can address erything in our power to help you.” counseling center with the these concerns?” he said. health psychiatry center, now St. Ignatius meets Erik ErikDeGioia expanded the RA called Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) to better psycho-educational model to son serve both the acute and on- staff and faculty who could In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, going needs of students seek- serve as “eyes and ears” of the DeGioia began to dig deeping help; and he expanded institution as first line of con- er into the factors that influGeorgetown’s utilization of tacts. Specialists were added enced students’ emotional in substance abuse, eating community partners. health and explored the con28

nection between science, environment, and mental health and wellbeing. This involved reconciling the school’s deep religious foundation with new information in the fields of psychodynamic development and cognitive neuroscience. He was curious how great thought leaders in student affairs like psychologists Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson could help the school understand what was going on in the minds of young people. He believed Georgetown’s rich moral and spiritual framework lacked an explicit psychodynamic character and he wanted to explore where the school’s faith tradition intersected with developmental theory. “What we were trying to figure out was how could we support the formation of our young people that required more than just the resources of the faith,” he said. DeGioia believes that universities can influence students in their personal formation— which includes the primary question “What constitutes an

authentic life?” At the time, the effort to incorporate this in a tangible way was only marginally successful though it paved the way for new initiatives. Complementing the safety net, the school developed a broad range of programs that fall under the category of student wellbeing. These include the Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning, a curriculum infusion program that focuses on teaching to the whole person with health and wellbeing topics intertwined with academic course work. These concepts and their impact on student health and wellbeing stayed with DeGioia like a brilliant discovery whose time had not yet come. Years later, DeGioia formally reengaged in the school’s exploration of developmental theory, this time assigning mental health professionals and senior leaders from across disciplines. For obvious reasons to those who know the history,

he named it Formation and Flourishing. Formation and Flourishing Formation and Flourishing is Georgetown’s attempt to move beyond the safety net, and secondary prevention, using the fusion of science, psychology, and religion to create a university environment focused on emotional and relational learning in addition to academic knowledge, all the while strengthening the safety net. To lead the effort, DeGioia tapped long-time colleague and friend, Mary Dluhy who he calls, “one of the greatest social workers of our time.” A clinician with a specialty in group dynamics, Dluhy originally came to Georgetown in 2003 and later oversaw the implementation and engagement of Georgetown’s newly created LGTBQ Resource Center. Dluhy says Formation and 29

Flourishing is the essence of Georgetown and of DeGioia. “It’s directly related to “Cura Personalis.” she said. “We are trying to create a community for students that helps them feel a part of something bigger than themselves so they become effective human beings, not just successful students.” The effort is informed by the continued breakthroughs in science and psychology related to young adult development that emerged at the end of the century up through to

today. This includes the “positive psychology” work led by Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania; cognitive brain science advances by neuroscientists like Dr. Francis Jensen, author of “the Teenage Brain;” and Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, of the University of Chicago who wrote about the psychology of “flow,” meaning full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of an activity. Flow relates to flourishing, which is Georgetown’s term for wellness. Flourishing has

deep roots in the Catholic tradition and connotes performing at your best in the richest way possible. Sourced in Aristotle’s “eudemonia,” flourishing involves embracing the multiple elements that make up our humanity – including love, art, knowledge, and friendship. DeGioia calls it “well-roundedness.” (The school has a course in “Flourishing” which provides first year students with the knowledge, self-care skills, and support systems they can call on to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.)

Photo by Bruce Mohl

An athletic field on the Georgetown campus in Washington, D.C.


It is through this philosophical framework that Georgetown is addressing a number of very practical problems. As is widely reported, counseling centers at schools around the country are experiencing drastic increases in utilization rates for students seeking help for a variety of mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Despite attempts to combat stigma associated with mental health, 40 percent of students with diagnosable mental health conditions do not seek help. Highly competitive schools like Georgetown have even more reason for concern. Admissions criteria are such that only the highest performing students are accepted, which can make for an environment comprised of over-achievers and high pressure. Recent national survey data show Georgetown students suffer higher than average levels of stress. Demand on Georgetown’s safety net, as on its equivalent in most schools across the country, is as high

as it has ever been. Over the course of four undergraduate years, one-third of each class will come to CAPS which has recently increased its professional staff. DeGioia believes the stress students experience at schools like Georgetown start well before they begin the arduous process of getting themselves through the door. “We need to ask ourselves: are we contributing to this incredible intensity that our young people are living with? If so, what can we do differently?” said DeGioia. Much of the work of Formation and Flourishing involves asking these hard questions. It reflects DeGioia’s insistence that the effort be both intentional and authentic, as was the safety net build which required a level of honesty and transparency that made some uncomfortable. To help them in their jour-

ney, DeGioia and Dhuly engaged Dr. Kavita Avula, an international psychologist specializing in trauma, group dynamics, crisis and critical incident response. DeGioia, Dluhy and Avula, together with senior leaders from across the university, have been meeting every month for a year or so immersing themselves in the discovery phase of Formation and Flourishing. They are confident a plan will emerge but patient with how long the process may take. “When we started this, we really wanted to get at the heart of the issue – not just tack on a program or hold a conference,” said Avula. “It’s an organic process; it’s a reflective process; and its very much a work in progress” The group’s focus is sharper than its timeframe as it sets out to address a number of strategic questions that are relevant for Georgetown and 31

other schools: How can we shift the culture on college campuses from a narrow academic focus to embrace a holistic approach to student development and well-being in addition to achievement? Is it possible to design programs that support formation and flourishing than can be incor-

anxiety and depression that confront our students? Finally, how do we understand the efficacy of our interventions? Are there new metrics we can develop for happiness or wellbeing? The group has sought advice from experts in a number of

How do we understand the efficacy of our interventions? Are there new metrics we can develop for happiness or wellbeing?

porated more fully into programs in schools? Can we collaborate with high schools in developing programming that supports the formation of our young people? Can we develop new models where more members of our community can receive sufficient mental health services? Can we address the ways in which our practices (admissions, curricula, career preparation) contribute to the 32

areas including resilience, relational learning, suicide prevention and technology. To date, they have hosted discussions with Dr. Kelly Crace, of William & Mary, who created the Life Values Inventory that helps students clarify their values and pursue behaviors that align with them; Dr. Tim Marachell of Cornell University; Cory Wallack, Director of the Syracuse University Counseling Center who developed a gatekeeper training program

called CampusConnect; and Charlie Morse from Worcester Polytechnic Institute who created a sought-after course called the Student Support Network that trains students at the academically-rigorous school to support one another. Formation and Flourishing also involves an assessment of Georgetown’s own programs, from the safety net through to some of the broader environmental interventions. The Formation and Flourishing team believes all of this will no doubt lead to changes in programming and policies, recommendations and new initiatives. But for now, Dluhy says they are going to keep exploring until they figure out what needs to be done. Given the school’s history of doing bold things in big ways, there is an expectation that Formation and Flourishing will produce something of real value and impact, for Georgetown and, perhaps, other schools around the country.

Young Voices: Educating to End Sexual Violence Advocacy through peer-to-peer education at the U.S. Naval Academy By Shaquil Keels I was raised by two of the

most wonderful women in the world, my mother and grandmother. They taught me from a young age to always do what I believe is right and told me that as a man, I must always love, respect, and protect women. Thanks to their influence, as I grew up, I treated everyone with compassion. It was second nature to me that all people should be treated with dignity and respect at all times, no matter their race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. It wasn’t until high school that I realized there was an epidemic taking place in our society. Sexual violence is something we all know but have difficulty talking about, particularly males. Our societal desire to sweep it under the rug is the very reason it is imperative that we do talk about it. So I’ll start the conversation: I am a 23-year-old man, a First Class Midshipman at the U.S.

Photo provided by the author

Shaquil Keels is the U.S. Naval Academy’s Student Advisor for It’s On Us, the national campaign to stop sexual violence. Then-Vice President Joe Biden, who helped launch the campaign, visited the campus in 2016 to talk about its impact.

Naval Academy, and I am dedicating my life to putting an end to sexual violence. And I want to talk about it.

My junior year of high school, a close friend revealed to me that she was sexually assaulted. I had no idea how to respond. I was shocked that 33

someone so close to me, someone I knew so well, could be a victim of sexual assault. I knew this was a terrible crime from watching movies and reading articles in the news, but that is all I knew. I tried to help her but I fell short. I just did not have the proper tools to help a survivor of sexual assault.

to man struggles to address sexual assault, it must be everywhere. It was then that I began to understand the pervasiveness of the issue that impacted my friend. During that same brief, we were introduced to the Naval Academy’s Sexual Harassment and Assault and Prevention

I am a 23-year-old man, a First Class Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, dedicating my life to putting an end to sexual violence. And I want to talk about it.

Those feeling of helplessness then made me realize now how important it is to have conversations on this topic early and often. These conversations are the only way to change our culture. My first summer at the U.S. Naval Academy was full of long days, short nights, and lots of yelling from upper classmen. Often, during those long days all I could think about was sleep, and remembering facts was a challenge.

Education Program, better known as SHAPE. All Midshipmen must complete multiple SHAPE sessions throughout their four years at the Naval Academy. The program is run by Midshipmen facilitators who guide discussions on sexual harassment and assault. This provides knowledge of the issue, and allows for emotional growth in learning how to talk about it. It also illustrates how everyone in a community plays a critical role in preventing sexual assault.

But there was one fact I could not forget: During an educational brief, I learned that in 2012, 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact. I realized that if the greatest military known

Another curriculum component of the Plebe Year (Freshman Year, in civilian university terms) consists of a presentation called the 1-in-4 Program (1-in-4 being the fraction of women in college have


survived rape or attempted rape.) This is presented to the incoming class on how male sexual assault parallels female sexual assault in terms of statistics, trauma, and general experience. We tend to hear more about women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, but it is just as important to recognize that this issue is not restricted to a single gender. Men are at high risk because they are less likely to tell anyone they’ve been assaulted, even their loved ones, meaning many male survivors are suffering in silence. The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a study in 2016 that found that one in five female undergraduates are sexually assaulted while in college. That same study also found that one in 16 men are also assaulted while in college. I want to know: How can this happen? Shouldn’t college be somewhere we all should go and feel comfortable in the environment we are in? The more I learned and engaged in this issue, the more involved I became. During my freshman year, I decided to be a Peer Educator on the SHAPE Team. With the proper resources and tools, I finally felt equipped to help people who might look to me for assistance. I became a close ally for survivors who did not know where to go or whom they could turn to. And I be-

came a voice for many people who have yet to tell their story. My role as a Peer Educator allowed me to become a stronger advocate in fighting to end sexual assault -- the kind of advocate and friend I wish I could have been back in high school. Two years ago, I became the “It’s On Us” Student Advisor for the Naval Academy. Launched in 2014, “It’s On Us” is a cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think and talk about sexual assault. It is a call for everyone to take a stand and realize that ending sexual assault begins with us. I served on a committee with many dedicated student leaders from schools across the country who all had different backgrounds and experiences. Although we came from different walks of life, we all had one common goal: to eradicate sexual assault. Being the only military Service Academy member on the Student Advisory Committee was not without its challenges — military institutions must follow certain guidelines that civilian schools are not bound by. In response, I pitched the idea of having a regional team specifically for the Federal Service Academies, and was asked to be the Regional Advisor for that team. I felt honored because doing so was a

great opportunity to branch out to our sister academies, and implement the “It’s On Us Campaign” on their campuses as well. I now have the privilege of overseeing incredible students doing important work at all the Service Academies. As future leaders in the military, it is critical that we understand sexual violence. The barriers that have prevented victims from coming forward — harmful myths and too much blame placed on survivors for the actions of their perpetrators — have stood for too long. By becoming educated advocates, we can make sure all survivors receive the message that they are believed and supported.

Bringing the “It’s On Us” Campaign to the Naval Academy has been a success, and I am immensely proud, humbled, and thankful to have been part of the experience. Former Vice President Joe Biden visited the Naval Academy in the fall of 2015 to hold a roundtable discussion about the work being done on our campus

and the impact of the campaign. Last year, about half of our students took the “It’s On Us” pledge to recognize and intervene in situations where a sexual assault may occur. By doing this, they are creating a sexual assault-free and survivor-supported environment. I am more confident than ever that the Naval Academy family is making a difference in ending this problem by empowering each other through education and conversation. Shaquil Keels, a native of Philadelphia, PA, is a First Class Midshipman (Senior) and a member of the 7th Company at the U.S. Naval Academy. He is a member of the Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Education Program, better known as SHAPE. He was selected to commission as in Ensign in the Surface Warfare Community this May. Throughout the year, along with numerous of other midshipmen, Shaquil helps inform the Brigade of Midshipmen on the cultural issue of sexual assault and how becoming and being an active bystander can help change the society we live in. As the “It’s On Us” Military Regional Advisor, he works to implement “It’s On Us” at each Federal Service Academy.


Science Summary A recap of research worth noting. By Dana Humphrey


The Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State released its annual report on college students seeking mental health treatment, which examines the utilization of more than 400 college and university counseling centers. The findings show that lifetime prevalence of “threat-to-self” characteristics, such as non-suicidal self-injury and serious suicidal ideation, increased for the sixth year. Counseling centers are providing more “rapid-access” services, including crisis appointments, walk-ins, and triage/screening services, and fewer routine services, like scheduled individual counseling appointments. Over the past six years, counseling centers have provided 28 percent more “rapid-access” services per student, and 7.6 percent fewer “routine” service hours per student. As demand for counseling services increases, especially for urgent issues, such as students who pose a threat to themselves, and funding remains static, routine treatment capacity may be impacted.

Counseling Centers Provide More Rapid-Access Services

The annual study also showed that anxiety and depression continue to be the most common concern for students and that rates of both have continued to rise slowly. In contrast, reports of academic distress, eating concerns, substance abuse and family distress have remained stable or have decreased. Rates of reported distress related to alcohol use have also decreased, as have binge drinking frequency. However, over the last four years of the annual survey, the rate of self-reported marijuana use has increased.


Nonmedical use of prescription Nonmedical Use of Prescription stimulants (NPS) is steadily rising Stimulants and Academic Effects among college students. Acknowledging that college students often use prescription stimulants for an academic benefit, the Center for Young Adult Health and Development at University of Maryland recently conducted a study examining the relationship between NPS and grade point average. The researchers studied 898 students without an ADHD diagnosis, finding no significant difference in GPA change between the groups that used nonprescription stimulants and those that did not. Furthermore, within the group of drug abstainers, GPA rose significantly. The study concluded that users of nonprescription stimulants showed no increase in GPA, and gained no advantage over their peers.



Recreational marijuana legalization policies have been passed in eight states and Washington D.C. As these state policies are implemented across the country, colleges face new challenges surrounding policy, prevention, and treatment. “College student marijuana involvement: Perceptions, use, and consequences across 11 college campuses” examined the prevalence, perceptions and consequences of marijuana use by 8,141 students across 11 college campuses. The study found that 53.3 percent of students had used marijuana at some point in their lives and that 26.2 percent had done so in the past month. Additionally, the study found that while one in 10 past month users had experienced no consequences from marijuana use (such as impaired control, physical dependence, academic or occupational consequences, risk behaviors, or blackout), nearly one in 10 had experienced 19 or more. The study also found that lifetime users of marijuana had more positive perceptions of the drug than non-users. These findings provide a baseline for further study of the effects of increased legalization of recreational marijuana.

Prevalence of Marijuana Use and Consequences


The concept of “microaggressions” Microaggression Research has galvanized discussion and spurred Said to be Underdeveloped action on college campuses across the country. Microaggressions are typically defined as subtle snubs, slights, and insults directed toward minorities that implicitly communicate hostility. In an article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Scott O. Lilienfeld argues that though the field of research on microaggressions has drawn significant attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is too underdeveloped to apply the concept in real-world practice. “Microaggressions: Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence” claims that the field of research on microaggressions has failed to define the term clearly and relies on unsupported premises, including that microaggressions are interpreted negatively by most or all minorities and that they negatively affect mental health. Lilienfeld recommends that the term “microaggression” be abandoned completely and that diversity training programs that include the microaggression concept suspend that part of the curriculum.


A recent study evaluated the relationship between state same-sex marriage policies and suicide attempts made by adolescents. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young adults (aged 15-24), a risk which is significantly elevated for LGBTQ youth. Researchers examined changes in suicide attempts before and after implementation of state policies permitting same sex marriage in 32 states, compared to 15 states without policies permitting same sex marriage. Data showed that same sex marriage policies were associated with a 7 percent decrease in suicide attempts by high school students, an effect that was seen most strongly among sexual minorities. This study provides solid evidence of an association between same sex marriage policies and mental health.

Same Sex Marriage Policies Associated with Decrease in Suicide Attempts


Issue 5 | First Quarter | 2017  

The Mary Christie Quarterly is a publication of the Mary Christie Foundation, a thought leadership and philanthropic organization dedicated...

Issue 5 | First Quarter | 2017  

The Mary Christie Quarterly is a publication of the Mary Christie Foundation, a thought leadership and philanthropic organization dedicated...