Committee Spotlight: Mental Health Initiative

Volunteers for the 2016 Fresh Check Day

Volunteers for the 2016 Fresh Check Day

With the topic of mental health on the rise, the majority of Emerson students, faculty, and staff are likely aware of the resources available on campus. Emerson College Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS) strives to help students build upon their strengths and address any personal, emotional, or interpersonal concerns that they may face during their time here. The Care, Assessment, Response, and Engagement (eCARE) team works to prevent and respond appropriately to students and staff who may pose a threat of harm to themselves or others. In addition, the College has founded a Mental Health Initiative team that focuses primarily on increasing the awareness of mental health issues campus-wide.

The initiative was created around two years ago after a previous student provided information regarding mental health concerns to a member of Emerson’s senior management. The team now consists of 13 staff members who meet on a monthly basis to look at mental health trends on campus, plan and sponsor various events, collaborate and foster new goals and ideas, and alleviate some of the pressure placed on ECAPS as well. The initiative’s main focus is to expand mental health awareness across campus, and to help others understand the different departmental impacts that mental health concerns can have. While eCARE addresses specific situations and concerns, the initiative discusses general information and statistics regarding student mental health on campus—which is one of the primary reasons that students choose to take a leave of absence—and how it might affect various departments.

The group continues to come up with new ways to spread the conversation about mental health. Last month, Kellie Fuller (Enrollment Services and Support), who leads the initiative, worked with the rest of the team to bring Fresh Check Day back to campus for the second year in a row. Fresh Check Day was founded in 2011 by Ernie and Marisa Poroco in memory of their son, who committed suicide during his freshman year of college. The goal of Fresh Check Day is to initiate stigma-free conversations about mental health in a positive and welcoming environment. This year, 82 students attended the event, and most participated in the various booths that were offered. Students received stamps for each station they visited and were subsequently entered into a drawing to win various prizes and giveaways once completing their stamp card. Students were very receptive to the program, and the event received great feedback.

Going forward, the Mental Health Initiative team will continue to look for additional ways to spread their message and purpose, and to develop methods of increasing mental health awareness and the impact it has on students, staff, and faculty campus-wide.

The members of the initiative are: Amanda Turnley, Carol Smolinsky, Chris Daly, Diane Paxton, Elise Harrison, Greta Spoering, Jason Meier, Jessica Hearne, Kellie Fuller, Laura Owen, Matthew Fisher, Melanie Matson, and Ronald Smithers.

Feel free to contact Kellie Fuller or any of the team members directly with questions, comments, or suggestions.

Casey Chick, Enrollment Management