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ACM Workshop Addresses Student Mental Health Amidst COVID-19

Published: May 13, 2021

ACM Workshop Addresses Student Mental Health Amidst COVID-19

Sara Abelson, MPH, Co-Investigator & Lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Projects with the Healthy Minds Network and PhD candidate in public health at the University of Michigan

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For colleges and universities, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened concerns about student mental health and well-being, and it will continue to play a significant role in how campuses provide mental health support.

"Given what our colleges and universities have had to manage during this pandemic, the timing of the workshop couldn’t have been better."

Terry W. Mason, PhD, Dean for Health and Wellness, Grinnell College

A new two-part workshop from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest aims to position faculty and staff to better support their students, first by sharing how the pandemic has affected student mental health, then exploring strategies and resources that can assist ACM colleges as they shape their mental health and well-being strategies for the coming years. The sessions featured Sarah Abelson of the Healthy Minds Network, which administers the largest study of college student mental health in the U.S., as well as experts from ACM campuses. 

This is the first in a new series of Quarterly Professional Development Workshops developed by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest to address timely issues identified by leaders on ACM campuses.

"As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACM strengthened our capacity to deliver crucial, time-sensitive professional development that our members can put into practice immediately," said Brian Williams, Vice President, Faculty Development and Grant Programs. "At a time when our students, faculty, and staff are under particularly stressful circumstances, we are grateful to the ACM presidents for prioritizing a workshop on mental health and well-being. We also appreciate our speakers, who generously shared their expertise, and hope these workshops can serve as a model for other colleges and universities."

"Given what our colleges and universities have had to manage during this pandemic, the timing of the workshop couldn’t have been better," said Terry W. Mason, PhD, Dean for Health and Wellness at Grinnell College. "Sara Abelson provided some very eye-opening statistics and a survey of how various institutions of higher education have approached supporting their students, faculty, and staff. Janet Lewis Muth presented very thoughtful and relevant information and ways to enhance the well-being of our campus communities. During this pandemic where time is a premium, attending this workshop was definitely time well spent.”

Explore the Sessions

SESSION ONE
The State of Mental Health: The Evolving Landscape and Strategies/Resources for Navigating the Path Forward

Mental health problems among college students were at alarming levels and on the rise prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has added stressors and exacerbated mental health problems. Sara AbelsonMPH, Co-Investigator & Lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Projects with the Healthy Minds Network and PhD candidate in public health at the University of Michigan, reviews the current state of college student mental health nationally, trends over time, and opportunities for action, drawing on the Healthy Minds Study, the largest study of college student mental health in the U.S. Janet Lewis MuthMPH, Director of Health Promotion at Carleton College, then leads a discussion of how that data translates to the residential liberal arts setting and how institutions like those in the ACM can respond.

SESSION TWO
Supporting the Mental Health of Students: My Role

Being responsive to student mental health requires moving beyond “refer them to counseling.” In a small, liberal arts context, each of us has a role in creating an environment in which students can be mentally well, developing a safety net for when students are struggling, and helping students to feel valued. In this workshop, Macalester College's Lisa Broek, MA, CHES, Director of Health Promotion, and Liz Schneider-BatemanMSW, LICSW, Director of Counseling, present a socio-ecological model for mental health on a small liberal arts campus, examine how it aligns with equity, and highlight the interdisciplinary collaboration that the model calls for.

Resources for Faculty & Staff

Access the resources shared in the workshops:


Are you or is someone you know in a crisis? Use one of these free, 24-7 resources:

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