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Ohio State shares commission recommendations on mental health initiatives

Work groups developing plans for improvement and innovation

A commission at The Ohio State University has examined the university’s current services and support for positive mental health and identified opportunities to enhance that support.

The Commission on Student Mental Health and Well-Being conducted a comprehensive analysis of Ohio State students’ current and evolving mental health needs and recommended five areas for improvement and innovation.

“Mental health concerns on college campuses across the nation have been steadily mounting in recent years – a phenomenon that was greatly exacerbated by the isolation, anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic and upheaval caused by social unrest. The health and safety of our students is my top priority,” Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson said. “Ohio State is offering a wide range of services and support. We continue our work to improve access, remove the stigma of seeking help and tailor programs to meet individuals’ unique needs. The recommendations of this commission are comprehensive and far-reaching, and they will help us ensure every student gets the care they need to facilitate their academic and personal success.” 

Senior Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers and University Chief Wellness Officer and Dean of the College of Nursing Bernadette Melnyk co-chaired the commission and are leading the implementation phase of the work.

“Helping students who have urgent mental health needs is critically important,” Shivers said. “And it is also critical to continue advancing Ohio State’s multimodal approach that includes emphasis on education and prevention support and resources.”

“We know our students have faced extraordinary challenges in recent years and continue to confront them,” Melnyk said. “We will always need to provide great crisis interventions to students in distress, but we will continue to shift our paradigm to one of prevention by equipping our students with evidence-based coping and resiliency skills, providing terrific resources and supporting a caring culture, which all help to optimize mental well-being  and ensure success in academics and in life.”

The commission developed recommendations in the following five areas:

  • Implement an evidence-based quality improvement approach to enhancing student mental health and well-being.
  • Coordinate practices for a comprehensive one-university approach to optimizing student mental health that emphasizes the university-wide impact of building and sustaining a culture of care and well-being.
  • Enhance marketing and communications around mental health resources, programs and services to increase student engagement and decrease the stigma surrounding mental health.
  • Conduct intentional outreach and engagement with BIPOC/marginalized communities, removing barriers to accessing support.
  • Enhance mental health services, programs and resources currently available, with a focus on prevention by building coping and resiliency skills as well as reinforcing the importance of mental health and well-being.

Five work groups are currently addressing the commission’s recommendations. These groups work independently, yet collaboratively, to review, prioritize, create plans and identify relevant university stakeholders to assist with the realization of the final recommendations.

Students, faculty and staff from across the university community served with the co-chairs on the committee. Members included:

  • Carol Bradford, dean of the College of Medicine and vice president for health sciences at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • Jacob Chang, president of Undergraduate Student Government
  • Shawnte’ Elbert, associate vice president for health and well-being, Office of Student Life
  • Darcy Granello, professor, Counselor Education; director, OSU Suicide Prevention Program
  • Abby Grief, vice president for the Council of Graduate Students
  • David Horn, interim executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of comparative studies
  • James Houle, lead sport psychologist for Ohio State Athletics
  • Jim Lange, executive director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse, Prevention and Recovery
  • Jacquelyn Meshelemiah, associate vice provost for diversity and inclusion
  • Anne Schira, senior associate general counsel and director of Legal Operations and Strategic Initiatives
  • Sharon Tucker, Grayce Sills Endowed Professor in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, College of Nursing
  • Jordan Vajda, representative from the Inter-Professional Council

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