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Mental Health Summit participants: We need more resources, better communication

December 1, 2021

During Monday’s daylong virtual event, students, faculty, staff and parents voiced concerns and diverse perspectives about an ongoing national crisis that has reached new levels during the pandemic.

The pandemic created what one expert called a “mental health tsunami” on campus. At a daylong online Mental Health Summit on Nov. 15, panelists shared concerns from their groups:

  • Students seeking help from Counseling and Psychological Services only to be put on a waitlist.
  • Graduate students dealing with academic stress on top of pressures of working, caregiving and commuting to campus.
  • Faculty being expected to teach and address the mental health of students.
  • Staff coping with added stress of doing multiple jobs because of understaffing.

“As chancellor, a professor and a parent, my heart breaks for the suffering that goes unnoticed all too often on our campus,” said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz in the introduction to the summit. “The solutions to this crisis will not come quickly and easily. It will take a sustained effort.”

The summit was open to members of the Carolina community and drew 752 registrants: 502 staff, 157 faculty, 91 students and two faculty/staff. The program was recorded and will be made available more broadly with key stakeholders and friends of the Carolina community.

While the University scheduled the online summit because of concerns about student suicides this semester, summit organizers emphasized that it was also part of continuing response to a campus mental health crisis. In 2018, the University convened a Mental Health Task Force that submitted a report in April 2019 with nearly 60 recommendations, two-thirds of which have been enacted or are ongoing.

At the summit, the University announced next steps in addressing the crisis.

  • Partnership with the JED Foundation and official designation as a JED campus in February. JED is a nationally recognized resource center that provides access to experts and will improve the University’s ability to prevent and respond to mental health issues.
  • Future Mental Health Summit Seminars to address related topics such as faith, addiction/substance use, intimate partner violence and vulnerable populations.
  • Upcoming Mental Health Colloquium in May 2022 to focus on crisis services, prevention and culture of care and compassion on campus.

Read more at The Well.

By Susan Hudson, The Well, Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

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