The Provost's Council for Student Mental Health
Mental health is a top public health issue facing University of Minnesota students and each campus in the system is committed to actively addressing a wide range of mental health concerns. On the Twin Cities campus, a group charged by the Executive Vice President and Provost leads campus-wide efforts on this issue. The Provost’s Council for Student Mental Health (PCSMH) consists of five committees:
- Faculty and Instructors;
- Research and Surveys;
- Direct Service Provision; and
- Prevention, Wellness, and Training.
A Coordination Team (composed of chairs and co-chairs of the five committees) facilitates communication between committees and with the Provost’s office. The Council is representative of many campus units and departments working on related topics, and aims to: 1) raise awareness about issues related to student mental health, 2) effect policy change, 3) improve conditions on campus for students with mental health conditions, and to 4) serve as a model of collaboration for the campus and other universities. Faculty and instructional staff are critical stakeholders in addressing student mental health. The following resources are available:
- Report of the Joint Task Force on Student Mental Health
- Red Folder
- Boynton Health
- Student Counseling Services
- Programs promoting best practices in inclusive course design, instructional strategies and other teaching and learning concerns through the Center for Educational Innovation
- Courses or workshops such as Success Over Stress offered by the Rothenberger Institute and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction offered by the Center for Spirituality & Healing
- Guidance on appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities offered by the Disability Resource Center
- Workshops and trainings through the Office for Equity and Diversity
- Recommended statements for course syllabi
- Student Academic Success Services material
- Programs promoting how to handle sensitive course content
- Resources on tolerance
- The Student Conflict Resolution Center
- The Effective U program developed by the SMART Learning Commons includes online stress management and time management modules that students can explore
- Top Ten Things To Do To Reduce Stigma
A central, online resource hub—mentalhealth.umn.edu—is student-focused but contains helpful information for all members of the University community.
The council was previously called the Provost's Committee on Student Mental Health and was established in 2005 by then Provost E. Thomas Sullivan. The Committee’s activities were specifically cited as a major reason that the University of Minnesota Twin Cities received one of five inaugural Healthy Campus Awards by the national organization, Active Minds in 2015. Also in 2015, the Committee achieved the Jed/Clinton Foundation Campus Program Membership Seal.
A Joint Task Force on Student Mental Health was established in Fall 2016 at the request of the Senate Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC) and the Provost. The Task Force was charged to provide the FCC chair and the Provost with insights and observations relevant to the role of faculty and instructors in addressing student mental health, and to develop strategies for engaging University faculty and instructional staff to contribute to efforts to address student mental health. The Task Force report included 5 recommendations:
- Instructors understand the key role they play in student mental health.
- Instructors adopt instructional strategies to prevent unnecessary stress without compromising academic rigor, and provide reasonable accommodations for students with mental health disabilities.
- Instructors strengthen proficiency to respond to students in distress and refer them to appropriate resources.
- Units foster an environment that promotes positive mental health and supports professional development of instructors in student mental health.
- University leaders continue to show a strong commitment to student mental health by strengthening relevant policies, planning strategically, and allocating sufficient resources.
Extensive strategies to accomplish each of these recommendations were detailed in the Joint Task Force Report.