In 2020, the University of Utah began the JED Campus program as a way to provide more wellness support to students. Though the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process, the initial phases are complete and implementation of the strategic plan is beginning.
“Being a JED Campus means we are bringing a culture of care to our students and that we are putting this culture of care into action in a couple of different ways,” said Sherrá Watkins, the associate vice president for student health and wellness.
The Jed Foundation is a nonprofit working to reduce teen and young adult suicide by partnering with schools to ensure students have the support they need.
Through the JED Campus program, schools like the U participate in a four-year collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention efforts. The JED Campus team assesses work that is already underway in the campus community and helps schools enhance these efforts to effect positive, lasting and systemic change.
The initial phases of the program include administering the Healthy Minds Study, completing the JED baseline assessment, and creating a campus-specific strategic plan with the information gathered. Now that this plan is drafted, university community members on the JED task force are working to implement it.
“The goal is to make sure the student who is sitting in the classroom has all the different types of access and services to be a well student so they can show up in the classroom and do well,” said Watkins. “A well student has good access to both the academic components and the health and wellness components too.”
There are many mental health and wellness resources already available to University of Utah students. Much of the process of implementing the strategic plan will include centralizing access points, streamlining services, updating policies, refining procedures and filling in gaps as necessary.
“Hopefully, once the JED program is in place, we will have a more unified message for how students can receive help if they are struggling,” said Lauren Weitzman, special assistant to the associate vice president for health and wellness.