News from Active Minds

Giving Students a Seat at the Table

Examples from the healthiest campuses in the country.

Stronger campus communities result when students are involved in mental health policy decisions and programs that affect them. Research demonstrates that student involvement increases awareness and usage of campus health services; generates new solutions and long-term results; and increases student academic performance and retention.

In fact, 85 percent of faculty, staff, and counseling center directors report that student input is very important for the success of campus initiatives, services, and programs.

Through the Healthy Campus Award, Active Minds recognizes colleges and universities that, among other criteria, champion student voices. Read on for some of our favorite examples of meaningful student engagement and the impact their involvement has made on Healthy Campus Award winning campuses:

Student-Led Bystander Intervention Training and Systems Change at Lawrence

Lawrence University students worked with administrators to require that anyone hosting a party on campus complete a training to learn how to prevent sexual assault, which is known to sometimes lead to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. After the training, 92% of participants were more likely to notice a safety issue. 83% were more likely to intervene.

Students at Lawrence and the university also came together to take action in support of campus health and well-being. Among the results were changes to the college’s mission statement and strategic plan; a president’s committee to address everything from alcohol awareness and mental health resilience to sexual assault prevention; and enterprising efforts to fund additional staff to support Lawrence’s healthy campus goals.

Transgender Student Support at SAIC

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago listened when transgender students spoke up for their needs that impact their mental health, such as a lack of training among staff to adequately support transgender students and insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery. The school’s health insurance plan now covers the surgery. Many college counseling and health professionals also use SAIC’s award-winning training curriculum on transgender student health.

Student-Informed Practices to Improve Student Mental Health at UW-Madison

The University of Wisconsin at Madison surveyed students to learn how high-risk alcohol use among peers affects students of color. Results showed that due to their peers’ alcohol use, students of color experience microaggressions and negative academic consequences that are linked to negative mental health outcomes and so they avoid particular campus areas. Campus units are using the information to guide next steps.

Student-Driven Health Education and Policy Change

The University of Minnesota has trained students to serve as health resources for residents in 44 dorms and 33 fraternity and sorority houses. They also identified mental health as the most pressing public health issue facing students and developed a university-wide Provost’s Committee on Student Mental Health, of which student representatives are members.


The Call for Applications for the 2018 Healthy Campus Award is now open. To read other recommendations and apply for the award, visit www.activeminds.org/award.

If you are a student and you would like to be more active in your school’s healthy campus efforts, check out Active Minds’ Transform Your Campus resources for successfully engaging in student-led campus change.

The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.