Kenyon and 11 of its peer institutions are attending the Great Lakes College Association (GLCA) Mental Health Summit in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which started on Wednesday and will conclude on Friday of this week (Dec. 11 to Dec. 13). At the summit, 10 guest speakers are discussing the importance of improving and maintaining mental health services on college campuses. A majority of these speakers, all of whom have years of psychological research experience, have previously worked at colleges such as the University of Michigan and Syracuse University (N.Y.).
For a year now, the GLCA has been looking for new and inventive ways to boost support for students. With this summit, they hope to compare practices at each of the dozen peer institutions and figure out what is working well — and what is not.
“They felt that a lot could be learned by bringing people together in conversation to find out about what’s going on on different campuses,” President Sean Decatur said. “It is important to hear from folks who could give perspective on what’s going on in the broader fields.”
As issues related to mental health continue to arise across college campuses, it is becoming pertinent to find possible solutions to such problems.
“I think what everyone is realizing is that this crisis has implications across the institution,” Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Bonham ’92 said. “It is not simply a student affairs issue, but a college-wide issue.”
Kenyon has sent a team to the event that consists of Bonham, Marne Ausec from the Center for Global Engagement (CGE), Dean for Academic Advising and Support Thomas Hawks, Professor Dave Heuchemer, Coordinator for Lifetime Fitness Emily Heithaus, Director of the Cox Health and Counseling Center Chris Smith, and sophomore class president Skyler Lesser-Roy ’22. “It’s a really nice cross-section of the community,” Bonham said.
Hawks agreed with this statement, and hopes that each institution can grow from an event like this summit.
“It is good to be able to see what peer institutions are doing and to have the opportunity to learn from them, to be in dialogue with them and to make sure that we’re taking all the opportunities that we can to support students here,” Hawks said.
In the program given to the event’s attendees, GLCA offers the slogan “Learn, Share, Do” to summarize the goals of its summit.
“Learn: Learn from outside speakers and panelists and from each other. Share: Share with others in similar positions and through informal exchange of ideas, networking, and benchmarking. Do: Campus teams work together on a campus-based plan of action,” the program reads.
On Wednesday evening, Sarah Abelson of the University of Michigan discussed the data trends and national responses to mental health crises. Thursday’s session will involve small groups, which aim to uncover challenges related to mental health, as well as how these challenges can be fixed.