In February 2019 Provost Mangelsdorf and I commissioned a Mental Health Task Force to address concerns from students, faculty, and staff about the wellbeing of University of Wisconsin-Madison students. Enhancing our mental health and wellbeing services to students is a top priority for all of us in Student Affairs and indeed for our entire campus community. As we begin the fall semester, student wellbeing continues to be an important area for Provost Scholz and the academic deans as well.
During this initial review, the task force focused on a review of current mental health resources and services and provided a report to Chancellor Blank. At the same time the new Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of University Health Services (UHS), Jake Baggott was hired and began his new role May 1, 2019. Here are additional updates since the report was completed in May:
- A new organizational structure in Student Affairs allows Jake Baggott to oversee University Health Services and University Recreation & Wellbeing. This change will allow for increased efficiencies and collaboration between these two units to serve students.
- The Associated Students of Madison increased their financial support for UHS which allowed us to hire 10 new providers in Mental Health Services. UHS created office space for the new staff.
- We were very pleased to have hired several new providers from underrepresented identities. We also have providers who can provide services in Mandarin and Spanish.
- We are piloting evening hours on Mondays and Tuesdays until 7 pm.
- We are developing plans to expand our behavioral health program in the medical clinic, broadening access to mental health support for students.
I appreciate the work of the task force who are committed to supporting our students through comprehensive mental health services and wellbeing programs. The University of Wisconsin-System has created statewide work groups to address this topic across all UW System institutions and UW-Madison is represented on these work groups.
I also want to recognize the valuable work being done by Dr. Jim Keck, Associate Dean of Basic Sciences, who is chairing a group focused on mental health needs and services for graduate students, professional students, and post-docs. This group is working on analyzing gaps in support for graduate students and identifying solutions to fill these gaps.
Our work to enhance mental health services and student wellbeing remains a high priority for all of us. Please let Jake Baggott or me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your continued support.
Lori Reesor, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs