A student’s well-being is closely linked to student success both academically and professionally. Recent news stories about student mental health awareness have become prominent across the country. Stories like the suicide of a graduate student at UW-Madison serve as a cautionary tale that the university environment can be a challenging and difficult place where students may suffer instead of thriving.
During the June 2019 Board of Curators meeting, the Intercampus Faculty Council (IFC) Roundtable discussed what faculty members are seeing in their classrooms when it comes to student mental health. This meeting featured a Critical Issues discussion on the topic, which included a panel, breakout sessions and a presentation on a possible new resource for students.
By working with mental health professionals at the four universities, the UM Office of Academic Affairs, IFC and the Board of Curators identified strategies that would make a positive impact. Because of this focus on mental well-being, the UM System is expanding resources to address these issues. The newest resource available includes a systemwide app subscription available for any student, faculty or staff member with a university email address, called Sanvello.
Created by psychologists, Sanvello helps users with mild to moderate stress, anxiety and depression by providing real techniques to relieve these symptoms. The app checks in with the user by asking questions to capture mood, identify patterns and self-assess progress. Sanvello takes the user’s answers to create a roadmap for improvement by setting weekly goals and tracking progress on their mental health journey.
Sanvello also has special tools to help students cope with common stressful situations, like test-taking, public speaking or even morning dread - when a person wakes up with large amounts of anxiety about facing their day. There are even community support forums where users can post their feelings on different topics and categories, allowing them to interact with users who have similar experiences. These forums focus on a range of topics, from school stress and relationships to books, movies and mantras to help improve mood.
The Sanvello app, which launched systemwide on Nov. 1, is the newest in the plethora of resources that the UM System provides for its students, faculty and staff. But this app is not the only resource available for students and staff in the UM System.
In addition to the app, professors and other academic leaders from all four UM System campuses are invited to sign up for RESPOND: Partners for Campus Mental Health. This free course provides a basic overview of symptoms associated with mental health problems and offers an action plan to help people to RESPOND effectively, empowering them to offer effective support to students and colleagues.