The MindHandHeart Initiative is tapping into our passionate community spirit and innovative problem-solving skills to enhance mental health and overall well-being at MIT. Students, faculty, staff, and other experts are working together to launch promising new efforts that coordinate and improve support services and measure progress. Over time, MindHandHeart will help members of our community feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it; build a healthier, stronger, and more welcoming community; and ensure MIT is eliciting our best while giving us the tools and support to be our best.
How It Works
MindHandHeart is a campus-wide initiative sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and MIT Medical. Under the leadership of MindHandHeart Faculty Chair Rosalind Picard and MindHandHeart Executive Administrator Maryanne Kirkbride, MindHandHeart is working to bring the MIT community together to shape a positive culture around wellness and mental health on campus. Much of this work is guided by the JED Campus Program Framework, a research-based program shown to enhance mental health and reduce student risk on college campuses.
Through its Innovation Fund, MindHandHeart leverages the enthusiasm and problem-solving skills of the MIT community to find new and inventive ways of increasing awareness about mental health, building communities of support, and promoting life and wellness skills.
Through its working groups, MindHandHeart involves students, staff, and faculty from across the institute to coordinate and enhance MIT’s efforts in areas where research has shown to reduce student risk and promote resilience. Currently, we have working groups focused on the Academic Environment, Connectedness, Increasing Help-Seeking, Life Skills, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services, and Wellness.
Why It’s Different
The MindHandHeart Initiative responds to what we heard from members of our community: To be stronger, we must tap the experience, expertise, and creativity of our whole community. MindHandHeart is bringing our best thinking and best resources together and aligning the good work that's happening right now across campus with new innovations.
What We've Accomplished
A lot has happened since the launch of MindHandHeart in September 2015!
- The Initiative has engaged over 150 volunteers (students, faculty and staff) through its working groups and initial steering committee.
- Using the JED Campus Program Framework, the MHH working groups presented ideas to senior leadership on how to impact MIT in JED’s 9 framework areas.
- The Innovation Fund has supported 25 projects aimed at improving mental health and well-being on campus in creative ways, including Random Acts of Kindness Week (#MITRAK), MIT Puppy Lab, “Tell Me About Your Day” (TMAYD), Slow-Looking Art Workshops at the List Center, Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), MIT Connect, and My Sister’s Keeper.
- Student officers of the UA and GSC, the MHH Help-Seeking Working Group, and communications officers in DUE, DSL, ODGE, MIT Medical, and the Chancellor’s Office worked together to revamp the Student Resources website (resources.mit.edu/support), a one-stop inventory of services available to MIT students.
- Through the Initiative, MIT offered workshops and training for responding to students in distress, including an online training that was completed by all incoming first-year students.
- MHH worked with the UA and Campus Facilities to install rooftop signs encouraging help-seeking via 800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Since the launch, other campus partners have also been active in shaping a postive culture around mental health and well-being at MIT:
- In September 2015, Chancellor Barnhart and MIT Medical Director Kettyle announced more counseling and support options, including:
- New mental health and counseling and student support staff.
- A centrally-located Mental Health and Counseling drop-in consultation site located in Building 8-316 and open Tuesday-Friday, 1-3 p.m.
- Expanded Student Support Services (S3) walk-in hours; Students can stop by without an appointment every weekday between 10-11 a.m. and 2-3 p.m.
- A new online appointment request form on MIT Medical's website.
- Systems to make it easier to access an off-campus local provider.
- More peer counseling resources available, including 32 additional students trained by the "Peer Ears" program and the launch of Peer2Peer, an anonymous, MIT online peer support service.
- Key student support organizations within DSL underwent a strategic realignment to enhance and better coordinate the already strong network of student support services.
- In response to student concerns, MIT’s Good Samaritan Amnesty Policy was amended to include prohibited substances in an effort to reduce barriers to help-seeking.
- Chancellor Barnhart announced changes to the undergraduate withdrawal and readmission policies aimed to make the policies clearer, easier to navigate, and more supportive.
- Chancellor Barnhart and Medical Director Stuopis established a committee to review MIT’s medical leave and hospitalization practices and policies for undergraduate and graduate students.