Johns Hopkins University released a report today highlighting the university's ongoing work to improve the climate of mental health and well-being for all students and trainees.
The report, which can be viewed on the Johns Hopkins Student Well-being website, details the university's progress from 2018 through the summer of 2021 and also includes information on future plans and opportunities for growth. Many of the steps taken are based on recommendations made in 2018 by the Task Force on Student Mental Health and Well-Being, a universitywide group convened by JHU President Ron Daniels in 2016 to ensure alignment with national best practices for supporting students' mental health and wellness needs.
In a letter accompanying the report, Kevin Shollenberger, vice provost for student health and well-being, noted that the creation of his role and its supporting office as well as the organizational structure of primary care, mental health, disability services and well-being promotions in fall 2019 signals the university's increased investment in the well-being of its undergraduates, master's and doctoral degree candidates, postdocs, and medical residents.
"As demonstrated by the creation of a dedicated Student Health and Well-Being division, streamlining and simplifying access to health and wellness support is a key university priority," Shollenberger wrote. As students contend with challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, institutional racism, inequality, and other issues, he added, "this unified approach to care has proved utterly essential and will continue to guide our endeavors going forward."
Key accomplishments outlined in the report include:
The creation of a vice provost for student health and well-being and coordinated services
Shollenberger was appointed to the post after six years as vice provost for student affairs. In this expanded role, Shollenberger is empowered to foster greater collaboration between programs and services that previously reported to different university divisions and departments. He oversees Student Disability Services and is responsible for coordinating the university's wellness, mental health, and primary care resources, moving them toward a more seamless, universitywide model that removes barriers to services and resources. Under Shollenberger's leadership, the university has also created several new learner-facing wellness positions, including an inaugural chief medical director and chief mental health director, to streamline a comprehensive service model for students' needs.
The launch of wellbeing.jhu.edu
Wellbeing.jhu.edu is a single digital destination for student health and well-being resources, news, and events available across the university. Developed with feedback from universitywide stakeholders, the site includes filters to determine services available based on school of enrollment, campus location, and searchable keywords. Additionally, users can scroll through university resources based on the eight dimensions of well-being—professional, spiritual, sexual, social, environmental, financial, physical, and emotional and mental well-being. Between July 2020 and June 2021, wellbeing.jhu.edu generated more than 78,000 page views.
The launch of TimelyMD
TimelyMD, a free, web-based mental telehealth resource, launched in April 2020 in response to COVID-19 and the limitations presented by state licensure in remote learning environments. It was built upon the university's counseling and mental health offerings from the Homewood Counseling Center, University Health Services Mental Health, and the Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program. The service includes TalkNow, a 24/7, on-demand telehealth support line staffed by mental health professionals, and scheduled counseling, where users can set up ongoing telehealth counseling appointments with a provider licensed in their state.
The university community can expect brief annual updates on this work moving forward, Shollenberger said. As the five-year mark of the initial creation of the Task Force on Student Mental Health and Well-Being approaches, university leadership will begin to evaluate the next phase of recommendations. Over the next year, staff will examine the timeliness and applicability of the current recommendations and determine the extent to which a revised path forward is necessary. For additional insight on the report, please see Shollenberger's blog post on the Student Well-being blog.