Planned mental health survey postponed to protect data from COVID-19 skew

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The Healthy Minds survey will assess a random sample of 6,000 students. It was supposed to be completed this semester, but was delayed because of the pandemic. (File Photo by Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

During the fall semester, vice president of student life and dean of students Thomas Lane announced that Kansas State would partner with the Jed Foundation to become a JED campus.

The Jed Foundation is a national organizations that helps universities and colleges tackle mental health concerns. It promotes the idea that dealing with the overall wellness of the student body should occur through a multifaceted approach that isn’t limited to the campus counseling centers. Through a four-year partnership, the foundation helps universities focus on and improve their efforts toward better mental health in students.

One way K-State’s JED campus team, made up of individuals from various university organizations, is working with the foundation is by conducting the “Healthy Minds” survey during the first and fourth years of the partnership. Between these years, they are hoping to see an increase in mental health resource access, utilization and exposure on campus, Brent Schneider, staff psychologist at Counseling Services, said.

Originally scheduled to take place this spring, distribution of the survey was delayed until the fall semester. While Schneider and Jennifer Miller, director of health promotions at Lafene Health Center, had the survey ready to go, the timeline changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This just all happened right when we were getting ready to launch it,” he said. “We had social media ready to go, we had posters. It was ready to go, both on our end and on the Healthy Minds survey end, and then everything shut down.”

He said they decided to postpone it, partially because of how the effects of COVID-19 would skew the data.

“We just don’t have the people on campus, really, at this point,” Schneider said. “We just thought that it would be best to postpone it, and also were concerned with the data being skewed at this point in terms of people knowing the resources that they can access.

“I mean, it just all happened so suddenly. So, we really thought that it would be best to postpone it until the fall semester.”

This coming fall, the online survey will be sent via email to a random sample of 6,000 students and will assess areas of mental health, including access to and utilization of campus resources.

“I think it will give us a really good picture of, what are we doing well, what are areas that we can improve in?” Schneider said. “And then hopefully, implementing whatever strategies we need in order to increase our visibility.”

While he is disappointed, Schneider is excited about what the survey will be able to accomplish.

“[I’m] looking forward to just getting it up and going in the fall,” he said.

At this point, other initiatives and plans of K-State’s JED campus team, including an on-campus visit from a Jed Foundation adviser this fall and the submission of the university’s self-assessment, are expected to occur on schedule.

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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.