Cover photo of Gosiger Hall, which houses UD’s Counseling Center, taken by Christian Cubacub
News Staff Writer
This story was written before the suspension of in-person classes and closure of campus housing for most students due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While most students are not on campus due to the coronavirus, UD’s counseling center can be called at 937-229-3141. Here are tools from the CDC to manage anxiety and stress associated with the coronavirus.
After issuing the “Healthy Minds Study” to undergraduate students in spring 2019, UD has gained a statistical picture of UD students’ health and wellbeing.
The survey was designed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants; it asked questions regarding mental health, as well as substance use, nutrition, exercise, sleep, personal safety and violence. The survey is slated for issuance on a three-year cycle.
“I think the survey provided administration with the helpful data they needed to implement new, innovative mental health programs on campus,” said Brianna Gavin, the chair of the Student Government Association Mental Health Committee. “With student information at hand, the administration is now able to combat the most important issues that need to be addressed.”
In total, 26% of the undergraduate student population took the survey.
The results were spread across demographics, including gender and school year, with 2,183 students responding. Among the students who took the survey, 30% of the individuals indicated that they had a previous diagnosis of a mental disorder from a medical professional.
42% of respondents reported anywhere from a mild to elevated level of depression, and 54% of students reported anywhere from a mild to elevated level of anxiety.
“We are taking this data to think very strategically about how we leverage resources, what kind of interventions, programs, and services that we put in place,” said Melissa Longino, assistant vice president for health and wellbeing and executive director of campus recreation.
The main purpose behind the survey was to gain a baseline of the mental health and well-being of the UD student community. From there, UD staff intend to utilize data to create actionable insights that will inform prevention strategies and service delivery. Student responses also allow faculty and staff to get a better handle on what students are personally experiencing.
“The perceived public stigma regarding those who receive mental health treatment contrasts with that on the individual level,” Longino said. “We need to combat the perception that seeking help is a sign of weakness into that of a display of strength.”
The student scores were a percent above the national average, Longino said. This affirms that while students take on challenges and stressors, they can still be successful.
“We have the opportunity to take the information and data we have to develop strategies and invest resources – our people, time, and money – in efforts to positively impact students and the institutional culture around health and wellbeing,” she added.
The idea of positive mental regard, which relates to things such as relationships, self-esteem, sense of purpose and optimism is tied in with criteria for strong mental health.
As the student body and its demographics shift, so will the components and focus of the Healthy Minds Study. The next issuing of the survey will take place in spring 2022.