We often talk about what colleges are doing wrong and where they're falling short. From sexual assault to mental health, the consequences can be tragic when student health isn't prioritized - high drop-out rates, life-long trauma, even death. But that doesn't mean that every college is failing to protect its student body - in fact, some schools are supporting student health superbly. And they're finding it's benefiting their mission, graduation rate, and bottom line.
Active Minds, Inc., the leading national organization empowering the student voice in mental health, is thrilled to play a role in recognizing institutions of higher education that are getting it right - not only saving lives, but helping our next generation flourish and build a strong foundation for life-long health. This week, we announced the winners of the Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, which celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that are prioritizing health and demonstrating innovation and excellence in promoting the well-being of their students.
The 2015 winning schools are: Cornell University, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of Texas at Austin, and Western Washington University. Connecticut College and Jefferson College received honorable mentions.
The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award winners are leading some of the nation's most innovative efforts to create healthy college communities. These schools are inspiring examples of what is possible when students, staff, faculty and administrators from across an entire university are working together so that every student has the opportunity to thrive. The award winners show that improving the health of a campus requires systematic efforts, powerful partnerships and students at the forefront, such as:
• The "Let's Talk" campaign at Cornell University sends mental health counselors to popular student venues around campus to offer students informal opportunities to speak with clinicians. By meeting students where they are, the campaign decreases barriers to services and encourages help-seeking behaviors.
• The University of Minnesota's Provost's Committee on Student Mental Health promotes mental health awareness and represents more than 20 offices, including staff, faculty and students. This is one example of institutional-wide collaboration in the name of health and wellness.
• The University of North Carolina at Greensboro invests in student health and wellness services - even in the midst of tight budgets - through a new $91 million student recreation center, the largest facility ever built by the university.
• The "BeVocal" bystander intervention campaign at the University of Texas at Austin trains students across the campus in how to effectively and safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations.
• The "Best Self" campaign at Western Washington University, a campus-wide, evidence-based training program, increases resiliency and well-being among all members of the university community - including students, staff and administrators
We hope you will join Active Minds in congratulating the winning institutions and commending them on their incredible work. Stay tuned over the coming year as we share their innovative efforts and best practices to inspire locally driven change across the nation.
The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award is an annual prize. The 2016 Call for Applications opens in November 2015. All applicants participate in an extensive vetting process and are evaluated across eight criteria by leaders from throughout the field of higher education and campus health. The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award is generously supported by the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. Learn more about the Healthy Campus Award at www.ActiveMinds.org/Award.