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Northern Vermont University’s Johnson Campus Plans Ways to Boost Mental Health Support on Campus

Northern Vermont University-Johnson has partnered with a nonprofit that promotes mental health and suicide prevention awareness for young adults in an initiative to boost support for NVU students.

 NVU will work with clinicians with JED Campus, a program of the New York-based Jed Foundation (JED), to assess and strengthen mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services at NVU​.

With less stigma and more awareness of mental health issues, NVU-Johnson and colleges nationwide have seen an increase in students with emotional health and substance use challenges and more requests for campus services.   

“NVU-Johnson wants to be proactive,” campus Wellness Center Director Kate McCarthy says. “We’re partnering with the Jed Foundation to help us evaluate our services…to see what we’re doing well and learn about opportunities to expand and enhance some of our programs.”

 As part of the JED Campus program, NVU has formed a team of faculty and staff from a broad range of departments “to empower some of our colleagues to identify and support students who may never make it to the Wellness Center,” McCarthy says. “We all own the mental wellness of our students.”

The team will assess campus services. “We’re expanding the conversation about mental health, which lets our students know this is something we care about and that we are looking for their feedback as we shape new programs,” McCarthy says.

The next step is to survey all students about their mental wellness and have them evaluate campus support services. JED Campus will review the team assessment and student surveys and make recommendations to NVU officials in the fall.

The Wellness Center will offer mental health first aid training to faculty and staff this fall. “It’s gatekeeper training to empower them to identify what might be going on with students and connect them to services,” McCarthy says.

Some research has linked student involvement in counseling to improved retention rates. “I would love for that to happen,” McCarthy says. “We know that connection with others helps students persist. Hopefully through our JED partnership,we can increase our students’ connection to staff and faculty in general.”