We wanted to take the time to offer you some thoughtful reflections, impactful resources, and reminders. Enjoy!
Reflections: “Young, Gifted, @Risk, & Resilient” National Conference
On October 24, Caitlin and David attended a terrific one-day conference at the University of Michigan (UM), “Young, Gifted, @Risk, and Resilient: Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being Among Students of Color,” cosponsored by UM’s National Center for Institutional Diversity and The Steve Fund, a national organization that supports the mental health and well-being of young people of color, especially on college campuses. Given BTtoP’s deep interest in student well-being and its links to equity and inclusion, it was wonderful to connect with a community of scholars, practitioners, and advocates focused on mental health among college students of color. We learned a lot, and we look forward to working with The Steve Fund and others. (Here is a link to the conference; here is a link to The Steve Fund and its work.)
One especially exciting session, led by Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, focused on the Equity in Mental Health Framework developed by health professionals, educators, and policy leaders with support from The Steve Fund and the JED Foundation. (Here is a link to the finalized framework.) Caitlin offers some reflections about the Framework:
BTtoP has long viewed student well-being as a central, inextricable element of holistic education, but it’s only more recently that we’ve been exploring the ways well-being intersects with equity. We know that incredibly diverse and historically underserved student populations, including students of color, now make up the majority of incoming college freshmen; yet interventions and structures that foster belonging and student well-being have often been designed for a homogenous “traditional” student body. A sticky point for us in conversation with our community has been presenting data that shows the disparity in well-being for our new majority students, and offering actionable, empirically-supported best practices for institutions to adopt to address these issues. Dr. Amaker’s fabulous presentation introduced us to the Equity in Mental Health Framework, which directly speaks to this need: the Framework Toolkit offers 10 specific, research- and survey-based recommendations that campuses can take to support the mental health of students of color. One recommendation, for example, is to create dedicated staff positions to support the well-being and success of students of color—and to be sure that their offices and facilities are located in central, welcoming places on campus. We look forward to incorporating the data and takeaways from the Framework into our approach for advancing intersectional, equitable student well-being, and learning from the 16 universities who are acting as pilot campuses for the Toolkit.
What Our Partners Are Doing: Civic Prompts in the Major
Our friends from AAC&U’s Civic Prompts in the Major initiative are holding free, one-day institutes on January 31, 2020 and March 6, 2020 at California State University, Los Angeles and the George Washington University, respectively. Both institutes will address how departments can act as a unit of change for student engagement across the major. Departmental teams of three or more are asked to apply by November 25 for the Los Angeles Institute and by December 16 for the Washington, DC Institute. We encourage all interested departments to apply!
BTtoP Fall Newsletter Now Available
In case you missed it, we recently published our Fall Newsletter. In this issue, we explore the theme of networked collaboration and community-building across silos as a theory of change in higher education. Click here to read more. We welcome your ideas and submissions for future issues — you can contact Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With warm thanks,
David, Caitlin, Kate, and Mercedes