The national mental health crisis has been exacerbated by the disruptive effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Young people have been particularly affected by these circumstances and are increasingly at risk for developing a mental illness. At Dartmouth, we are committed to the health and well-being of our community and to providing our students with the skills and assistance they need to thrive.
To guide us in these efforts, we have partnered with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that works to protect the emotional health of teens and young adults, to help us strengthen and deliver programs and services that support our undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
The Jed Foundation’s four-year Jed Campus program targets seven domains, integrating considerations for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Those domains are developing life skills, promoting social connectedness, identifying students at risk, providing mental health and substance misuse services, following crisis management procedures, and restricting access to potentially lethal means.
The Jed Process at Dartmouth
In summer 2021, Dartmouth began working with the Jed Foundation’s signature four-year JED Campus program. Dartmouth established three contracts with the JED Foundation to allow deeper-level data collection and stakeholder engagement, which would have been impossible grouping all schools under a single contract. Those contracts are for undergraduates, Geisel, and Guarini, Thayer, and Tuck jointly. Provost David Kotz appointed two co-leads from each school and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to advance this work. Meanwhile, the JED Foundation assigned a campus advisor to each of the three contracts.
In fall 2021, each unit completed a comprehensive self-study developed by the JED Foundation to explore the institution’s mental health policies and procedures. We submitted those materials to the JED Foundation for further review.
In October 2021, all students were invited to take the Healthy Minds Study (HMS) student survey, which gathered data from students on topics such as knowledge, symptoms, resources, campus culture, bystander skills, and resilience related to mental health. Meanwhile, each school formed a committee of faculty, staff, and students to take an active role in the JED site visits.
The JED campus advisers received our data and materials and sent Jed Foundation content experts to Dartmouth for site visits. The Faculty and Arts and Sciences (undergraduate) site visit took place in February 2022. Geisel’s site visit took place in April 2022, as did the joint site visit for Guarini, Thayer, and Tuck. Each site visit included a campus tour, small-group meetings with key staff, a student focus group, and a daylong session with a committee to review data and brainstorm ideas for strengthening our community related to the seven Jed Campus domains.
Dartmouth received initial feedback from the JED's campus advisers in summer 2022. The recommendations were broad. In September 2022 six work groups were formed, three of which include representation from the graduate and professional schools. These work groups prioritized recommendations from the JED Foundation and planed initial actions. Initial actions included conducting listening sessions, advancing discussions across units, and developing communications.
The JED Foundation emphasizes that advancing student mental health and well-being requires leadership and commitment from all members of a campus community and units within a collegiate system. Throughout the review, the Dartmouth community was engaged in supporting student mental health and well-being, and collaborating across schools and divisions producing numerous enhancements.
To further facilitate cooperation and alignment across Dartmouth, a steering committee for student mental health was formed. The steering committee has played a key role in the development of an all-Dartmouth strategic plan for student mental health and well-being.