Mark Munetz, M.D., The Margaret Clark Morgan Endowed Chair in Psychiatry and the founder of the Mental Health Committee at NEOMED, is determined to wipe out the stigma surrounding mental health issues. His goal is for NEOMED to reduce that stigma so that when people—whether students, faculty or staff—recognize they need help, they will feel free to seek it out.
“I am proud that we have students and faculty at NEOMED who have volunteered their stories of experiencing mental illness and receiving help that has worked,” says Dr. Munetz. “But despite our efforts to assure our students that seeking help is a sign of strength, too many students and faculty continue to fear that seeking help will jeopardize their future career.”
NEOMED’s Mental Health Committee was established five years ago, following the work of a Mental Health Task Force. The committee’s mission is to advance mental wellness and self-care for NEOMED students, faculty and staff by adopting a comprehensive approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention. Target strategies include reducing the stigma of mental illness, increasing help-seeking behavior and encouraging a culture of mutual concern for one another. Members of the committee –student representatives, staff members and faculty from across the University—meet monthly to work to achieve these goals.
With the addition of on-campus counseling for students and wellness services for the entire campus community offered through Sequoia Wellness, the University has bolstered its offerings in recent years.
Currently, the Mental Health Committee is partnering with the Jed Foundation, which provides mental health best practices to campuses across the country. This quality improvement initiative is part of an effort on campus called NEOMED Cares to improve the mental health and wellness of the entire NEOMED community.
The Jed Foundation is working with NEOMED’s committee to develop a strategic plan with action steps to continue the University’s progress in the areas of student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts. Some of the first things that NEOMED is working on involve increasing help-seeking and assuring everyone on campus is trained in how to identify, reach out and refer colleagues or students who may be struggling.
NEOMED will be working actively with the Jed Foundation for the next three years on implementing action steps that are on the Mental Health Committee’s emerging strategic plan.
Student Voices Wanted
Students who are interested in making their voice heard on mental health topics are encouraged to send an email to the Mental Health Committee. Whether it’s a suggestion for a service or to nominate yourself to serve on the Committee, emails are welcome. Send them to NEOMEDCares@neomed.edu.