CSG launches task force on mental health

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 1:14am

Student representatives gather for a Central Student Government meeting in the Michigan Union on September 13, 2016.

Student representatives gather for a Central Student Government meeting in the Michigan Union on September 13, 2016. Buy this photo
Arnold Zhou/Daily

 

Central Student Government launched the University of Michigan’s first ever Mental Health Climate and Resources Task Force, an initiative intended to improve mental health on campus, after CSG President David Schafer, an LSA senior, signed an executive order to implement it at their Tuesday meeting.

The initiative is Schafer’s 11th executive order this semester.

The task force will analyze the data from surveys sent out to students and faculty last month on the issue, as well as host town hall meetings to hear student input, and then make recommendations on how to improve climate. 

According to a press release, the task force will focus on three main areas: the faculty perception of mental health, student feedback and the available mental health resources on campus. Within these areas, the task force will focus on ensuring that faculty are better trained in handling mental health concerns, improving accommodations for students and reducing the wait time and enhancing resources in CAPS.

“No student should ever have their access to resources be determined by where they live and what they study,” Schafer said.

Last fall, three mental health surveys were administered through a partnership between CSG and Active Minds, an organization that raises awareness about mental health on college campuses through peer-to-peer interactions. In the release, Schafer said he plans to use the recommendations from the task force to inform and discuss the issue with administrators. 

“When we as a university prioritize student mental health, we maximize the potential of our community,” Schafer said. “The policy recommendations from this task force will allow me to thoughtfully engage University administrators on how best to enhance student access to mental health resources.”

Business junior Grace Nasr, CSG representative and a co-chair for the task force initiative, said the main purpose of the group will be reviewing the responses of the three surveys the body released to better serve the student body in improving mental health on campus.

“The surveys encompass all of the answers, wants and needs of the students and faculty on campus, including resources and innovation for mental health,” Nasr said. “I think that it very directly links CSG and the task force to what students want and what the faculty want, as well.”

LSA senior Yumi Taguchi, who is also a co-chair of the initiative and the co-director of Active Minds, said the idea of the task force formulated last spring, and as the initiative continued to gain strength over the past several months, representatives worked to increase membership on it to the current total of 16. She said their group’s diversity, in terms of their schools and identities, will be an asset to accruing varied information.

“Having that diverse perspective is really important to us when analyzing the data but also coming up with policies and recommendations for the universities,” Taguchi said.

LSA junior Max Rothman, another co-chair of the initiative, said the task force includes representatives from both undergraduate and graduate schools at the University. He said the group mainly recruited students that have a background in research so that the group can accurately analyze survey data in an effective manner.

“(The task force) was supposed to be representative of the entire student body,” Rothman said. “We mainly looked for people that already expressed mental health advocacy on campus, and then after we looked into that, we made sure that there were representatives from different student governments and parts of campus.”

Taguchi said Todd Sevig, director of the University Counseling and Psychological Services, has supervised the initiative’s process and aided them in administering the surveys to the student body.

Though the task force was commissioned by the assembly, Schafer noted it had the potential to have an impact beyond his tenure as CSG president.

“I think it’s so powerful to provide concrete recommendations that will last far after we graduate from the University of Michigan,” Schafer said.

Recommendations are slated to be proposed before the Office of the Provost’s budget is finalized in February or March.