The bedrock of MindHandHeart (MHH) is participation in Jed Campus, a national program to improve wellbeing and reduce risks for self-harm on college campuses. Offered by the Jed Foundation, it is based on work done by the Air Force that reduced suicide by 30% over a 10 year period. In its first year, MHH brought together key stakeholders from across campus to engage in a participatory process with the Jed Foundation. Since then, MHH and its partners across campus have identified opportunities within the Jed Campus framework areas and achieved results to improve wellbeing on-campus.
Highlight accomplishments from AY 2016-17 across the framework areas include:
- With faculty leadership, MHH engaged the academic community in action-oriented dialogue about the Healthy Minds survey data, involving school deans, the Chair of the Faculty, key department heads, and faculty with relevant expertise.
- The Academic Environment Working Group conducted department-specific student discussion sessions to understand the context of the Healthy Minds data.
- Through the Innovation Fund, MHH supported the Teaching and Learning Lab’s You Belong @MIT initiative, helping the MIT community to develop tools and strategies to enhance academic belonging in academic departments and classrooms.
- MHH worked to support a faculty member piloting a mid-semester climate survey in one large class to help the faculty member and TAs get real-time feedback on how their students were experiencing their course, allowing them to make changes midway through the semester if needed.
- The MHH Connectedness Working Group hosted the 2nd annual Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week. Hundreds of MIT community members and many departments participated in the event series designed to promote reaching out, making connections, and building community.
- MHH funded a number of other projects focused on community building through its Innovation Fund. Some of these include Plants for the People, a workshop series focused on bringing different communities together to learn about plants; Sunshine Makes Us Happy, a project bringing lawn furniture to Eastman court to encourage more outdoor gathering; and MIT Connect, a website that matches random members of the MIT community together for lunch.
- Working closely with the communications officers in DUE, DSL, ODGE, MIT Medical, the Chancellor’s Office, the UA, and the GSC, MHH made improvements to MIT’s Student Resources website (resources.mit.edu), a one-stop inventory of services available to MIT students.
- The Helping You, Helping Others interactive art installation funded by the Innovation Fund engaged over 20 offices on campus in helping normalize help-seeking for students.
- In February 2017, the Life Skills Working Group hosted Life Skills Week, which included 15 workshops and daily tabling, all focused on building practical skills in areas such as personal finance, conflict management, and shopping on a budget.
- In efforts to foster resilience and normalize self-doubt and failure, the Failures in Graduate School Innovation Fund project brought MIT faculty together with graduate students to discuss the mistakes and challenges the faculty faced when in graduate school themselves.
- Over 140 generous MIT alumni and community members donated funds to provide every incoming AY 2017-18 freshman with a copy of Portraits of Resilience, a book profiling MIT students and faculty who have overcome adversity.
- MedLinks, a residentially-based peer health advocacy program, helped distribute prescription pill de-activation envelopes to reduce the availability of unused medications in student residences.
- With input from MHH and Jed Foundation experts, MIT took steps to increase campus safety for laboratories and other buildings.
- MHH worked with student leaders from the UA and Campus Facilities to install over 200 rooftop signs designed to prevent suicide and encourage help-seeking via 800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- MHH worked with DSL and DUE to have all first year students come to campus having completed Kognito, an online-learning program focused on identifying and helping peers in distress.
- Under the leadership of the Chancellor’s Office, DSL, and MIT Medical, MIT made changes to its Good Samaritan Policy as well as its medical leave and hospitalization procedures in efforts to increase help-seeking and foster more transparency and trust. Although MHH was not directly involved in these efforts, we cheered from the sidelines and served as a liaison with the Jed Foundation, sharing information on promising practices.
- The MHH Wellness Working Group developed a report based on focus groups with MIT student ‘sleep champions.’ The report explores barriers to achieving healthy sleep patterns at MIT and highlights strategies for getting more and better rest.
- Using this report, the working group held meetings with key campus decision makers, hosted student learning events on sleep, and developed promotional materials on sleep hygiene.