Wayne State’s Student Senate Mental Health Project Group has worked to revamp its various working groups and initiatives to reflect the current needs of the campus community.
Former project group Chair and recent alumna AeYanna Yett said Senate’s website has not been updated to reflect the group’s current initiatives, which have been synthesized to reflect three needs on campus: information, mental health and wellness, and visibility and engagement.
Prior to her graduation on Dec. 17, Yett said she spoke with Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Jeffrey Kuentzel and CAPS Counselor Stephanie Kastely to learn the results of WSU’s 2021 Healthy Minds Survey.
Sent out during the winter 2021 semester, the survey received almost 500 responses, Kuentzel said in a Jan. 2 email to The South End.
“The purpose (of the Healthy Minds Survey) is to understand the mental health needs of our students better so we can make data-driven decisions about how to best meet these needs,” Kuentzel said.
According to the Healthy Minds Study 2021 Winter/Spring Data Report, the overall participation rate for the study was 13%.
“It is important to raise the question of whether the 13% who participated are different in important ways from the 87% who did not participate,” according to the report. “We address this issue by constructing non-response weights using administrative data on full student populations.”
The results do not include official diagnoses, but a screening means that with further evaluation it is likely that person will be diagnosed, Kuentzel said. According to the national data provided, WSU’s reports are within the range of other universities sampled.
Study findings include:
45% of students screened positive for overall depression, including major and moderate
35% of students screened positive for an anxiety disorder
13% of students screened positive for an eating disorder
17% of students reported suicidal ideation in the last year
44% of students reported lifetime diagnoses of mental disorders
Senator and project group member Batsheva Khaimov said the former mental health working groups, Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health Resources, Mental Health and Cultural Competency, Eugene Applebaum and College of Nursing, have been eliminated.
Additionally, the Mental Health First Aid and Emotional Abuse Prevention initiatives have not been updated, primarily due to lack of senator involvement after several senators graduated.
Other initiatives that have not been eliminated include adjustments to first-year courses, which will be followed up on in the coming semester, Khaimov said.
“The senators from the 2021-22 academic year passed a resolution approving the potential change into the First Year Seminar curriculum and (Mental Health Project Group) senators will be contacting FYS instructors in the winter 2023 to follow up on where administration is on the initiative,” she said.
Khaimov said the project group established a Mental Health Triage System between the WSU Psychology Clinic, CAPS and the Campus Health Center on Oct. 31.
“According to Dean (Laurie Lauzon) Clabo, who spoke to the Student Senate on Dec. 1, over 100 students have already utilized the non-emergency form,” she said.
Khaimov will serve as the Chair of the Vaping Education and Student Health initiative, which will begin meeting during the winter 2023 semester and said the initiative will likely host workshops and collaborate with the CHC to provide necessary care.
Senator and Chair of the Mental Health Coalition Hayden Johnson said the new coalition is made up of any mental health-focused student organization.
“The goals of this group are to better evaluate the needs of our students through various perspectives that members of these student organizations can provide, and better inform our administration on what the true needs of this campus are,” Johnson said.
Student Senate President Yousra Zouani said after the graduation of several senators, Senate is looking for representatives for the School of Social Work, College of Fine Performing and Communication Arts, College of Engineering, School of Information Sciences and College of Pharmacy.
“A major challenge that we are facing is getting more students involved…” Zouani said. “Whether serving as a Senator or becoming involved in a project group, joining the Senate provides the resource to make positive changes on campus.”
Senate’s recent single-use parking pass initiative was one of the most successful of the semester, Zouani said. Launched on Nov. 28 by the Community Affairs Project Group, the initiative purchased 500 single-use parking passes, free for students to obtain weekly at The W Pantry & Thrift Shop.
Director of Community Affairs Mannat Bedi told TSE in November the initiative will be a valuable resource for students who cannot afford WSU’s $222 per semester parking permit.
Chair of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Project Group Huda Syed said the JEDI Project Group has made significant steps in each of its current initiatives: Black Student Success, Middle Eastern and North Africa and LGBTQ+ University Council.
“(The) Black Student Success team and I have been working on starting a peer-to-peer group that focuses on the struggle of being (a) Black university student and the different struggles (experienced)...” Syed said.
In addition to the peer group, BSS initiatives include the establishment of a Campus-wide Black Council to prepare students for post-graduate success and increased Black-focused administrative programming, according to its website.
Syed said the LGBTQ+ Council is in the process of finalizing a date for a “Queer Prom” towards the end of the academic year.
Zouani said one of her major goals for the year was to create a strong team, and she feels they have completed that.
“Getting a group of strangers to work together is difficult, but we all came together on the same page…” she said. “I am very happy and proud of the Senators I have and the work and time they have dedicated to their projects.”
Students struggling with mental health or seeking resources can receive free services on the CAPS website. Students experiencing a mental health crisis during business hours can contact CAPS directly at 313-577-3398. CAPS Afterhours Program is available outside normal hours for on-campus students at 313-577-2277 and off-campus students at 313-577-9982.
Amelia Benavides-Colón is the editor-in-chief of The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo by Jackson Meade.