Task force will recommend strategies to strengthen student mental health services

A newly created campus task force will review mental health resources and related supports at UW–Madison and provide recommendations for a comprehensive, multifaceted approach to the mental health needs of students.

The effort comes as colleges and universities around the country address a marked rise in the utilization of mental health services by undergraduate, graduate and professional students. At UW–Madison, the number of students seeking mental health services through University Health Services has increased 35 percent in five years.

The task force will receive its charge from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor and Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf. Reesor will initially chair the task force for spring 2019.

By late May, the task force is to report immediate strategies for fall 2019 implementation. The group will then continue its work into the next academic year, with longer-term recommendations on new models and approaches for the future.

“Nationally we know the number of distressed young people is on the rise, and every counseling center on college campuses is being impacted by this increased demand,” Reesor says. “We appreciate the quality of service being provided by Mental Health Services in UHS as well as other campus resources. We also know we need to do more to provide continued support for our students in order for them to be successful academically.”

Reesor says the task force will take a broad look at mental health services, from treatment approaches to prevention efforts to resiliency building. The group will tap the expertise of UW­–Madison faculty members and researchers whose work focuses on best practices in the field. Members of the broader campus community also will be engaged in the work.

Efforts to provide increased mental health support for underrepresented students will be among the priorities. Finally, the task force will review the tools and resources available to faculty and staff to support student mental health.

Faculty/staff members of the task force are as follows, with the department or area of campus each represents:

  • Gina Bryan (Nursing)
  • Valerie Donovan (UHS Prevention Services)
  • Christina Frank (Veterinary Medicine)
  • Diane Gooding (Psychology)
  • Stephanie Graham (Counseling Psychology)
  • Charlotte Ladd (Medicine and Public Health)
  • Andrea Lawson (UHS Mental Health Services)
  • Lisa Martin (Graduate School)
  • Amanda Ngola (Social Work)
  • Tony Utrie (Dean of Students Office)

Student members of the task force:

  • Laura Downer (legislative affairs chair, Associated Students of Madison)
  • Tiffany Jones (graduate student in counseling psychology)
  • Manasi Mohan (Health Care Advisory Committee student representative)
  • Madeline Noreika (president, National Alliance on Mental Illness, UW–Madison)
  • Billy Welsh (chair, Associated Students of Madison)