By: Samantha Cooper
Among Goucher College’s many changes is the introduction of the JED Campus program, an initiative set by the JED Foundation which is designed “to guide schools through a collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts” according to the website.
The process has barely begun; before the semester ends, representatives from the JED program will come to campus and assess the issues and help Goucher College faculty implement changes to help students. As part of this process, students were sent a “Healthy Minds” survey, which will help the representatives make their evaluations on how to best help Goucher help its students. The group will work with the college for a total of four years to help make these changes.
The program covers nine aspects of well-being on campus: policy, systems and strategic planning, developing life skills, connectedness, academic performance student wellness, identifying students at risk, increasing help-seeking behavior, providing mental health and substance disorder services, and means restriction and environmental safety. More information on these aspects can be found on their site.
The decision to bring it to campus was made mostly by the faculty. Monica Neel, Goucher’s Director of Student Counseling Services, who began in the 2015-2016 school year she decided that a priority for the school should be a “Suicide prevention/post-vention plan.”
She believes that the program will highly benefit students as she said it “ensures our campus infrastructure models best practices with regard to promotion of campus-wide emotional wellness, decrease in stigma associated with mental illness, as well as suicide prevention and postvention.”
Andrew Wu, Assistant Dean of Students, emphasized that the JED program had been in planning before the unfortunate vents of last semester. In the fall, a Goucher student committed suicide. Wu stated the incident highlighted issues with Goucher’s current system; “I think we learned last fall that if a suicide were to happen…We didn’t exactly know the best ways to respond right away. We didn’t have a plan, basically. One big thing that JED does for you, is help you develop a post-vention plan and so if you have a suicide, everyone knows what do we do when we respond. What do we need do for students, for the community, who takes care of what, it’s much more complicated than it seems.”
He also said, “This whole thing is not about Collin. I think people are going to jump to that conclusion possibly, and I don’t think tis fair to Collin to say were doing for that reason. [I] don’t think its accurate to say we’re doing for that reason.”
Out of all the issues, he believes that suicide prevention and postvention plans as well as dealing with substance abuse, are the most important issues and hopes that the program will help improve the way Goucher assists students with these issues.
The JED program is not the only mental health event Goucher is doing. On April 23rd, Goucher will be hosting a “Mental Health Field Day” in which students and faculty will be helping inform the Goucher community about issues related to mental health.
(Correction: This article originally misspelled Collin’s name and misstated the date of the Mental Health Field Day. Both have been corrected.)