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Initiative on wellbeing at Harvard

Harvard’s Task Force for Managing Student Mental Health

In February 2019, Provost Alan Garber convened a Task Force for Managing Student Mental Health to examine the state of student mental health at Harvard, the resources and supports that are available to students, and the actions the University might undertake to improve their mental health.

Report of the Task Force on Managing Student Mental Health

The Task Force completed their work in July 2020 and prepared a report with recommendations that include launching a mental health awareness and culture change campaign; exploring ways to make Counseling and Mental Health Services more accessible; and examining how to address mental health, sexual climate, inclusiveness, isolation, and belonging holistically.

Implementation Committee

To develop a plan for implementing the recommendations outlined in the Report, an Implementation Committee for Student Mental Health and Wellness was established. Their charge is to prioritize the recommendations for implementation; establish working groups to operationalize the Report’s key recommendations; monitor the implementation process; conduct an inventory of mental health and wellness resources across the University; and report on progress.

Implementation Committee for Student Mental Health and Wellness

  • Robin Glover (Co-Chair), Associate Provost for Student Affairs
  • Giang Nguyen (Co-Chair), Executive Director of Harvard University Health Services
  • Sam Bersola, Dean of Students, GSAS
  • Peter Choi, MBE (HMS), President, Harvard Graduate Council
  • Victor Clay, Chief of Police, Harvard University Police Department
  • Jenny Gan, Harvard College Class of 2022, Former Vice President, Harvard Undergraduate Council
  • Debra Isaacson, Senior Associate Dean for Degree Programs & Student Affairs, HKS
  • Barbara Lewis, Chief of Counseling & Mental Health Services
  • Nicole Merhill, Director, Office for Gender& Equity & University Title IX Coordinator
  • Donna Mumme, Director, Academic Resource Center, FAS
  • Katie O’Dair, Dean of Students, Harvard College
  • Heather Quay, University Attorney, OGC (Counsel to Committee)
  • Fidencio Saldana, Dean of Students, HMS
  • Alexis Stokes, Associate Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Harvard University
  • Jonathan Swain, Senior Director, Media Relations and Communications
  • Kate Upatham, Director, University Disability Resources
  • John Weisz, Professor of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Working Groups

Mental Health and Wellness Orientation Module

Charged with researching mental health and wellness orientation modules that include strategies for self-care, managing stress and anxiety and when to seek help, and information about University resources. In addition to an orientation module, the Group will review other wellness related modules that students can access at will. Ideally, modules should address issues that are specific to different student communities (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, and professional students).

Training Module & Resource Guide for Faculty, Staff, Teaching Fellows, and Post-Docs

Provide recommendations for a resource guide and training modules in support of student mental health that includes resources to recognize, respond, and refer students in distress, as well as guidance for role-modeling self-care and creating a supportive academic environment for learners. 

Marketing & Communication: Mental Health Awareness

Develop and launch a mental health awareness campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the stigma of mental health, provide accurate and up-to-date information about resources, and promote an environment of self-care with an emphasis on flourishing. The campaign will also promote University-wide and School-specific resources for students.

Student Access to Care

Explore ways to make Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) more accessible. Consider digital assessment tools for self-reporting by students as a tool to contribute to the managing of triaging student requests.  Give attention to any identified service gaps (e.g., services provided by CAMHS and the Academic Resource Center).

Competing Entry into Undergraduate Extracurricular Organizations

In addition to the University-wide working groups, the College’s Dean of Students, Katie O’Dair, charged the College’s Committee on Student Life to review and respond to competitive membership processes in undergraduate extracurricular organizations. A report was completed in December 2020 that includes a summary of recommendations. Most of the recommendations have been implemented, and the remaining recommendations are in progress.

“You don’t need to wait to put your wellbeing first or to get the support and care you need.”

– Community message from Provost Alan Garber, October 6, 2022