JED announces strategic plan

The McKinney Center houses the University Counseling Services.

A plan to address mental health on Truman State University’s campus was announced Monday with the results of the Healthy Minds Survey.

Since officially partnering with the Jed Foundation in fall 2017, Truman’s JED committee has been working to improve the mental well-being of students, faculty and staff. The Healthy Minds Survey, which the committee administered to students last spring, revealed the leading causes of stress in students and provided an idea of how many students are affected by depression and anxiety.

“We had great student participation,” JED committee co-chair Evonne Bird said. “We credit the students for helping us with this so when we look at the data, we know it is pretty reliable and pretty representative of our student community.”

The survey was sent out to the entire student body and had a 41 percent response rate.

Truman’s JED committee compared the survey results to the results of schools similar in size and cost within the JED program, and found that Truman does not have any alarming difference in mental illness. Truman did, however, have the highest percentage of students who reported thoughts of suicide, with 17 percent of respondents confirming they had suicidal thoughts. However, 84 percent of students said they know where to go to receive help.

One of the biggest changes already taking place is the approval to move back the add/drop deadline by two weeks beginning fall 2019. The University Counseling Center has also hired a part-time psychiatric health nurse practitioner as well as a part-time psychologist. Future potential changes include introducing University-sponsored health insurance, simplifying the medical leave policy, hiring a full-time psychologist and communicating with faculty to evenly distribute workloads throughout the semester to avoid elevated stress levels around finals.

Other efforts such as redefining “Typical Truman Student,” pushing the acronym “SWEET” standing for sleep, water, exercise, eating habits and time management and encouraging peer support are all ways in which the committee hopes to improve the quality of student life at Truman.

“The work of the JED program involves the work of the entire campus community,” said Janet Gooch, vice president for academic affairs and provost. “This first town meeting is our first step to make you all aware of what we’ve been doing as a JED campus.”

For more information or to see the full strategic plan, visit the University’s wellness page.