Provost Dr. Amy Thompson | Photo by Bethany Althauser | The Wright State Guardian
In the fall of 2022, University Provost Dr. Amy Thompson started a mental health task force. One initiative is projected to start this October.
The main goal
According to both Dr. Jim Denniston, founding dean of the College of Health, Education and Human Services, and Thompson, the main goal behind the creation of the task force is to improve student retention rates. There are also secondary goals that both Thompson and Denniston hope to see across campus.
“We seek to promote a greater sense of belonging and inclusion for all students, faculty and staff on our campuses,” Denniston said.
How the task force functions
The task force has entered into a four-year partnership with the JED Foundation, a nonprofit that protects mental health and prevents suicide among the country’s young adults. In this first phase, the university will be sending out a “Healthy Mind” survey to gauge the need on WSU’s campus.
Once students complete the survey, the university will enter phase two. Phase two lasts two years and consists of working with the JED Foundation to come up with a plan of action and implement it across campus.
The final phase, which takes place in the fourth year of the partnership, is to send out the “Healthy Minds” survey again to see what work still needs done to improve the mental health of those on campus.
As of right now, Thompson and her team have already trained over 150 staff members in mental health first aid and over 250 staff members in self care. There are also over 25 staff members trained to administer Narcan kits, 1,600 of which were obtained on Sept. 14, 2023. There are also 10 Naloxone boxes on campus to store Narcan for quick access.
There will also be links at the bottom of every WSU webpage that say “Wright State Cares.” These links will lead to a report that anyone can fill out to motivate the university’s Counseling and Wellness Center to reach out to the person mentioned. If someone appears to be struggling, one can simply go to the link and mention a concern about that individual. When reporting, one can choose to leave their name or report anonymously.
Thompson said that there is one main thing she would like students to know.
“If you’re a student and you’re struggling with mental health issues or you feel alone, please reach out. Please ask for help. You have people here on campus that are standing willing and ready to help you be successful,” Thompson said.
The motivating factors
In addition to the goal of retention, the main secondary goal is the improvement in the overall health and wellbeing of those on campus. Denniston provided various national statistics that show the need for the mental health task force.
“Mental illness is the second most common reason for why students dropout of school nationally,” Denniston said.
Student response thus far
Hailey Rainier, a student in the School of Professional Psychology program at CWS who sits on the task force, explained a personal aspiration for the task force.
“I’m hoping to see action following the words being spoken,” Rainier said.
The survey is projected to come out in October 2023 with World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10.