Mental Health Task Force

In response to rising national awareness of the impacts of mental health on college students, President Monaco announced the launch of a university-wide task force dedicated to student mental health in the fall of 2016. This group is tasked with assessing current policies and services and developing recommendations for meeting the growing needs of a diverse student population.

Members and Organization

The Task Force is co-chaired by President Monaco and Dr. Paul Summergrad, Psychiatrist-in-Chief; Dr. Frances S. Arkin Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine.
The Task Force members include students, faculty and staff representing Tufts’ unique constellation of schools.

The Task Force is organized into three bodies: the full Task Force, the Working Group focusing on Undergraduate Students, and the Working Group focusing on Graduate and Professional Students. The working groups allow for a broader range of stakeholders to participate in the work of Task Force. The Working Group focusing on Undergraduate Students is co-chaired by Jennifer Stephan, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the School of Engineering and Raymond Ou, Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs for the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. The Working Group focusing on Graduate and Professional Students is chaired by John Matias, Associate Dean of Admissions and Enrollment at the School of Medicine. The Working Groups began their work in February 2017.

The full list of members is available here: Mental Health Task Force and Working Group Members.

Purpose and Charge

The purpose of the Mental Health Task Force is to conduct a university-wide review and assessment of student mental health, wellness and holistic engagement, including the current student experience, the services offered, available resources and potential areas for additional collaboration and enhancement. The overall goal of the Mental Health Task Force is to ensure that Tufts University is meeting the needs of our student populations, fostering resilience, and providing a healthy and supportive community in which all students can reach their potential. Over the next year, the Mental Health Task Force will conduct its review providing draft recommendations to the Tufts community in the fall of 2017 with respect to: (1) education, outreach and mental health promotion, (2) services and resources, and (3) policies and practices.

The complete purpose and charge is available here: Purpose and Charge of the Mental Health Task Force.

Summer Update

In the spring of 2017, the working groups began by assessing the available resources and determining areas for improvement. The Graduate and Professional Working Group completed an inventory of all the services offered to graduate students across the university. Data collection on mental health has been limited the graduate level, so the group is moving to bring the Healthy Minds survey to graduate students in the upcoming school year. The additional data will help develop a benchmark for evaluating the success of future programs and in the long run, it will be useful for identifying trends.

The Undergraduate Working Group focused on conducting student outreach throughout the spring semester. The primary goals of student outreach were to introduce the Mental Health Task Force to the student population, explain our purpose and charge, and obtain qualitative data on the current state of mental health at Tufts. Outreach was conducted by the members and staff of the Task Force. In total,

  • Ten interviews: Interviews were held privately among members of the task force and one or two students, including the leadership of Active Minds and Ears for Peers.
  • Nine listening sessions: Listening sessions were open sessions targeting certain populations in order to highlight specific needs. The focus for each of these sessions were General, International, Asian/Asian-American, Black/African-American, Latinx, School at the Museum of Fine Arts, Engineers, Low-Income and First Generation, and Seniors (Class of 2017)
  • Five organizations: Task force members were invited to speak at the meetings of several organizations. These were the Tufts Community Union Senate, the Pan-Asian Council, the Africana Advisory Alliance, Tufts Emergency Medical Services, and the Interfaith Council
  • Eight online comments. These comments were submitted via the president’s website. One student was engaged in a follow-up interview.
  • One class of approximately 70 students were engaged for one lecture period and asked to complete a survey related to their perceptions of mental health at Tufts.
  • In April, task force members attended the Mental Health Monologues – an annual campus-wide event for students to share their and others’ stories about mental health.

The working group then composed a summary reflecting the concerns, needs, and suggestions that students have expressed in regards to their personal mental health as well as that of the broader campus. This summary will be used to guide the working group in discussion and developing recommendations.

Moving forward, the working groups have been charged with examining university policies that relate to mental health, in particular, policies around mental health leave of absences and hospitalizations. Additionally, a task group dedicated to exploring potential Models of Care has been identified within the task force, and this group will begin their work in July.

Share Input

Members of the Tufts community are invited to submit their perspectives on student mental health, barriers, programs/services that promote positive mental health or areas for improvement with the Task Force through the form below.

Note: Submissions are read by staff to the Task Force, not trained mental health professionals. If you would like to contact a mental health professional regarding personal health concerns, please contact the appropriate resources listed below:

Boston Health Sciences Campus:
Student Wellness Advising and Health Promotions

Grafton Campus:
Cummings Support Center

Medford/Somerville and Fenway Campuses:
Counseling and Mental Health Services

Mental Health Emergency:
Counseling and Mental Health Services
(M-F, 9:00am – 5:00pm)

Tufts University Police for assistance with reaching the Counselor on Call
(After-Hours Emergencies, 5:00p – 9:00a)

June 2017