K-State to partner with Jed Foundation to move forward on mental health issues

Thomas Lane, vice president of student life and dean of students, reflects on his personal and professional experiences that constructed his views on leadership, mental health and serving students during a lecture on Sept. 19, 2019. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

In an effort to improve student mental health, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Thomas Lane announced last week that K-State will partner with the Jed Foundation and become a JED Campus next spring.

“The Jed Foundation is a national foundation that’s focused on college student mental health and especially in the area of suicide prevention and awareness,” Lane said.

During his time at Missouri State, Lane was responsible for a conference on college student mental health. A keynote speaker he invited was a representative of the Jed Foundation.

“When I came to K-State, I was very interested in continuing those conversations, and we formed a small working group together to have conversation with the Jed Foundation, and that’s what led to the partnership being formed and our decision to become a JED Campus,” Lane said.

The partnership between K-State and the Jed Foundation will last four years.

“They help campuses systemically and holistically evaluate and assess their prevention programs and awareness programs for college student mental health and suicide prevention,” Lane said.

“They take a very broad approach,” he said. “The Jed Foundation’s model is that college student mental health cannot only be the responsibility of the counseling center, that it has to be a culture-wide commitment from the university.”

The Jed Foundation has a framework consisting of seven areas, including promoting social connectedness and increasing help-seeking behavior.

Another piece of the partnership will be a survey of K-State using the “Healthy Minds” survey. This will take place during the first year and again during the fourth year of the partnership.

“Hopefully we’ll have moved the needle on a number of positive attributes with regards to college student mental health,” Lane said.

Jim Parker, director of Lafene Health Center and interim director of Counseling Services, said the demand for mental health services at Lafene and Counseling Services is greater than their ability to provide.

“We have a significant portion of our students that visit us that indicate that they have at minimum anxiety and depression,” Parker said.

“We’re excited because one of the elements that JED has talked to talk us about is bringing this as a campus response as opposed to just a Lafene Health Center response or a Counseling Services response,” he continued. “When JED speaks about mental health and where we can head to help our students … Lafene Health Center is going to be listening and say, ‘How can we participate in this?'”

Lane will work to put together a task force with students and faculty representatives from different areas across campus to participate in the program, including Peer Advocates for Mental Wellness and Success, the Career Center, Recreational Services and Counseling Services. This team will regularly meet with a JED Campus consultant.

“There’s a reason why [each member will be] at the table, because they have critical conversations with students, they help build the culture of the campus,” Lane said.

“That’s what we need for this kind of effort, is to foster a culture that is able to have conversations around student health, mental health [and] suicide prevention,” he said. “Not only having those conversations, but making sure that our policies, our procedures [and] the services that we offer are moving the needle forward.”

I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.