Target: Liz Thurston, Director of Student Affairs at Harvard University
Goal: Prevent student suicides by investing in effective mental health programs.
Suicide is the primary cause of death among college students and is most often a result of a long-term struggle with mental health issues. Research by UCLA indicates the lowest level of student mental well-being ever recorded, and the American College Health Association found that more than half of college students experience crippling anxiety. College students are struggling with these illnesses at an alarming rate, and they are in dire need of support from the institutions they attend.
As the number of students seeking help from campus counseling centers increases, schools find they are not well enough equipped to handle the need. When students can’t get the help they require, there can be grim consequences. Staggering statistics like 1,100 suicides at colleges per year show the necessity for schools to find different solutions. The Jed & Clinton Health Matters Campus Program helps colleges assess and work toward better emotional and mental health. With a strategic framework already in place, students and faculty benefit from a variety of programs that support students’ overall well-being.
Harvard University, one of the most stressful schools in the country, has counseling and wellness centers on campus, but that is not enough. Formal medical help can pose a barrier for someone who is in the throes of depression or anxiety, which is sometimes related to substance abuse or feelings of exclusion. On Harvard’s website, one has to click through many links to find wellness services, which can take a critical amount of time for someone who is considering suicide.
Sign this petition to encourage Harvard University to commit to students’ well-being and increase efforts to prevent suicide by implementing the Health Matters Campus Program and providing better, different options for its students.
Dear Director Thurston,
Suicide on campus is a serious issue, and the rates of depression and anxiety in college students are skyrocketing. While students deal with stressors like academic performance, debt, and competition, it is essential that schools like Harvard University make supporting emotional and mental health a top priority.
While Harvard University does have existing resources for students’ mental health and well-being, there is much left to do to better address and solve these issues. Many universities have already signed up for a groundbreaking, comprehensive suicide prevention program called The Jed & Clinton Health Matters Campus Program. This program provides a self-assessment for colleges and a framework for implementing a strategic plan for mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention on campus. Policy changes and dedicated committees are a few of the ways schools are ensuring the safety of their students.
Signing up for the Campus Program shows a university’s commitment to its students’ health, well-being, and safety. I strongly encourage Harvard University to join this program in an effort to better serve its students and provide even more resources regarding suicide prevention.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: russavia via Wikimedia Commons.