Update on UIC commitment to student mental health and well-being
Dear students, faculty and staff,
In January, I committed nearly $4.5M to student mental health services and charged the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness with building capacity and investing resources to enhance student mental health care at UIC. I also directed the Disability Resource Center to establish and implement a strategy for the provision of psychoeducational assessments in collaboration with the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness. A guiding principle of this commitment is to foster transparent, collaborative and accountable processes as UIC moves forward as a community.
I write to provide an update on our progress on these commitments.
- The Counseling Center has hired two new staff members, including a full-time psychiatrist and a licensed therapist. The Counseling Center is concluding the search for five additional staff members, which includes three psychologists, one licensed therapist and one director. After these searches, the Counseling Center will have 24 mental health providers.
- A market analysis to inform salary adjustments for the Counseling Center staff was initiated through UIC Human Resources.
- In collaboration with the Office of the Dean of Students and the Jane Addams College of Social Work, the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness appointed a crisis counselor and three mental health social work trainees to pilot a social work trainee field unit that will launch in fall 2023.
- In collaboration with the interim associate vice chancellor for student affairs and campus auxiliary services, the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness identified a physical location at Student Center West for a well-being drop-in space to support health professions students.
- In July, approximately 16 UIC community members will be trained as mental health first aid trainers through the National Council for Mental Well-being. They will partner with the Office of the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Health and Wellness to build community capacity to support student health and well-being.
Charge #1: The interim chancellor has charged the Office of Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Health and Wellness with building capacity and investing resources to enhance student mental health care.
As part of his early efforts to understand the landscape of health and well-being programs and services, the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness convened a team to initiate an asset mapping process to identify health and well-being resources, programs and services on campus and within the broader Chicago community. As charged, this team met in February to discuss additional faculty, staff and student representation and the pending American College Health Association consultation visit. An asset mapping tool and process were determined and initiated; however, the decision was made to pause convening the Well-being Framework Team after the ACHA site visit to allow for the association’s report to inform next steps and intentional community engagement around emergent priorities.
Although the Well-being Framework Team paused convening, pending the ACHA consult report, the Office of the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Health and Wellness has prioritized engaging several stakeholders, including faculty, students and staff across multiple colleges and schools to inform the future directions of UIC’s efforts to strengthen students’ ecosystem of care. Of note, the Office of the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Health and Wellness has engaged faculty, students and staff through a combination of over 120 individual and group meetings since August 2022. These discussions and ongoing engagement efforts extend opportunities for faculty, staff and students to share feedback on the proposed direction for UIC’s student health and well-being priorities and to share their perceptions of strengths, opportunities and existing resources that could contribute to UIC’s collective goals. As our community continues to move forward with processing and implementing recommendations from the ACHA report and building upon previous health and well-being efforts at UIC (e.g., Chancellor’s Student Mental Health Task Force), there will be several opportunities for faculty, students and staff to not only provide feedback but to contribute to shepherding our collective efforts to prioritize well-being at UIC and co-create a health-promoting campus.
Charge #2: The interim chancellor also has charged the Disability Resource Center with establishing and implementing a strategy for the provision of psychoeducational testing that will help our students with securing the support they need to receive disability-related accommodations and facilitate their academic success at UIC.
The director of the Disability Resource Center, interim director of the Counseling Center, and assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness have engaged with community partners, including the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, to receive guidance on incorporating doctoral trainees in UIC’s strategy for the provision of psychoeducational testing. Leveraging this guidance, the Disability Resource Center and the Office of the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Health and Wellness will engage faculty, staff and students to inform a pilot strategy that will allow UIC to evaluate the efficacy of a service model, capture community needs and identify recommendations to proactively cultivate a supportive learning environment that meets the needs of students of all abilities.
American College Health Association Consultation and Next Steps
UIC partnered with the American College Health Association’s College Health and Wellness Consulting program to receive guidance on long-term plans to enhance its health and well-being infrastructure for students. During the consultants’ site visit in February-March, they engaged with several institutional stakeholders, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and faculty and staff to learn about the experiences and challenges they faced. The ACHA consult report offers recommendations that encourage the establishment of a student health and well-being identity, greater collaboration and coordination of health and well-being efforts, data-informed decision-making, increased transparency and action related to health and well-being strategic priorities, and telling the story of the critical and impactful work that faculty, staff and students are currently doing to support student well-being. Building upon the recommendations from the ACHA consult report and the efforts and insights of previous task forces focused on student mental health and well-being, the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness will publish metrics, goals and timelines for an improvement process by August. Upon publishing these priorities, the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness will reconstitute steering committees to help shepherd our collective efforts to enhance community health and well-being at UIC.
To continue fostering transparent, collaborative and accountable processes as we move forward, we invite you to review the full ACHA consult report and to share your feedback and comments using this form. In addition to this open comment opportunity, the assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness will be holding discussion sessions throughout the summer months to share insights about how UIC will leverage the ACHA recommendations to inform the campus’ health and well-being priorities and to solicit additional feedback on our implementation process. You can indicate interest in and register for these sessions at the end of the open comment survey.
We will use feedback from these summer sessions to inform our broader strategy to enhance community health and well-being at UIC and will communicate additional opportunities for community involvement as the work progresses. Thank you for your continued partnership and commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of the UIC community.
For more information, please contact: