Photo of the University of Dayton courtesy of Flyer News.
Tori Miller | News Editor
The University of Dayton is one of many colleges and universities striving to enhance the quality and accessibility of mental health and wellbeing programs following the impact of COVID-19. On Feb. 20 emails announcing the Healthy Minds Study reached student inboxes encouraging all undergraduates to participate in the 25-minute online survey.
“We need your input to get a representative picture of the student population so that University of Dayton can improve services and programs,” the email said.
The Healthy Minds Study is a longitudinal research study established by the University of Michigan School of Public Health to help gauge the mental health and wellbeing climate for students.UD is issuing the study campus-wide to gauge the emotional needs of students and plan on using the collected data as a guide for future resource allocations.
Student Government Association Mental Health Committee chair Mary Kate Newman emphasized the importance of filling out the survey and how the results impact the university’s handling of new initiatives.
“The university really does take this survey seriously in regard to providing services and delegating resources,” Newman said. “It is also the first time the survey will be filled out after COVID, so I think we will see a lot of differences in the results compared to the last time the survey was done in early 2020 before COVID.”
This year, the study has projected a large emphasis on how voices matter. Assistant vice president of health and wellbeing and executive director of campus recreation Melissa Longino is an advocate for the survey and believes in amplifying student voices for a better understanding of stressors in student life.
“We can gain a better understanding of how students’ health and wellbeing needs are being met,” Longino said. “This is an opportunity for students to contribute to positive change that will enhance and better student life at UD.”
From a higher education perspective, data shows that a persons’ wellbeing is foundational to their academic success, persistence to graduation and fulfillment as a person, according to Longino.
The study takes one step closer to fostering a more holistic understanding of mental health for students, staff and faculty. Openly discussing these issues will normalize the conversation, break down stigma and make it more likely that individuals will seek the support and resources they need, she said.
“We all experience stress and wellbeing differently. It is part of being human,” Longino said. “Understanding that we all need assistance and support at some point will create space for us to seek and accept support.”
In terms of current mental health support, UD offers a wide variety of comprehensive programs to support students. The programs are scaffolded, offering services ranging from prevention and education to intervention.
“We [Health and Wellbeing] really encourage the community to use the UD Step Care Model as a frame of reference and educational tool in building a foundation for sustainable physical and mental wellbeing, as well as identifying and connecting to campus resources,” Longino said.
Students can seek direct mental health support from the Counseling Center, Student Health Center and Dean of Students Office. Other resources such as the Brook Center, CADRE, Campus Recreation, Housing and Residence Life, Campus Ministry and more are also available for students.
The study is open now until March 10. Participation is not required, but anyone who completes the survey will be eligible for a custom T-shirt and will be automatically entered into a sweepstakes for one of two $500 prizes or one of ten $100 prizes.
“Mental health issues can have such an effect on someone’s life and even threaten it,” Newman said. “The better understanding that comes from the Healthy Minds Study can be something like finding out many students are struggling in a certain area that maybe we didn’t think was as big of an issue.”
To learn more about the survey, visit the Healthy Minds Study FAQ’s on the Health and Wellbeing website.
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