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Friday, the University of Michigan used Twitter to open up dialogue within the University of Michigan community surrounding sexual misconduct and mental health.
The online conversation was held in an effort to erase the stigma attached to both major issues, as well to promote awareness of them.
Multiple members of campus were panelists for the talk, including Cooper Charlton, former Central Student Government president and Wolverine Support Network co-founder; Holly Rider-Milkovich, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center director; Dr. Bob Winfield, chief health officer and director of University Health Services; John Greden, executive director of the U-M Depression Center; and Todd Sevig, Counseling and Psychological Services director.
Sexual misconduct and mental health have both been topics of significant discussion on campus throughout the past year. This past week, the University released the full text of its revised sexual misconduct policy following a year-long revision process. The new policy includes an expanded definition of what is prohibited conduct, adjustments to the definition of consent and the consolidation of the sanctioning and appeals process.
At the last Board of Regents meeting held March 20, Charlton drew the board’s attention to the issue of mental health on campus following the recent death of a University student earlier that week. Throughout his term, Charlton has advocated for an increased staff of mental health professionals in the Counseling and Psychological Services on campus, citing the “gold standard” as one counselor for every 1,000 students. CAPS currently falls short of this standard, and students have said they continue to experience significant wait times before meeting with mental health professionals.
In response to a question asking for specific statistics related to mental health illness on campus, Greden noted that 25 percent of University students suffer from a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, for which only 40 percent receive treatment.
Another question asked whether or not panelists believed there is a stigma attached to being a survivor of sexual assault. Milkovich responded saying according to campus climate data, only 45 percent of students tell another person about their experience — a statistic she said points to “too much silence” on campus.
Data was also a topic in discussion later in the chat, in response to a question on the prevalence of sexual misconduct on campus. Milkovich responded that according to the campus climate report, 10 percent of students experienced sexual misconduct within the last year and 22 percent of female undergraduate students report sexual violence.
Another question from a recent graduate of the University, asked: “What are your recommendations for recent grads who feel like they didn’t live up to their personal expectations?”
In response, Greden said he recommends talking to therapists, friends or seeking additional help if symptoms are more severe.