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JED Campus to help Life West address students’ mental health needs

Life Chiropractic College West is implementing the JED Campus program, which aims to strengthen the mental health of high school and college students by encouraging community action and understanding.

Lori Pino

“Studies have shown that students are facing increasing psychological issues, primarily anxiety and depression,” Life West academic counselor Lori Pino said. “The program’s aim is to assist colleges from the top-down, getting them to understand this is an endeavor to be undertaken by the entire institution and infused into every aspect of the environment.”

JED Campus is run by the Jed Foundation, which was founded in 2000. Donna and Phil Satow, who lost a college-aged son to suicide, set about providing colleges and their students with necessary mental health resources.

“We are especially mindful during this year of the importance of promoting good mental health and emotional wellness for all of our students,” Dr. Scott Kerlin, Life West Director of Assessment and Institutional Research, said. “JED Campus will enable us to partner with other college and university campuses around the country in building best practices for promoting strong student mental health.”

The first step of the program is an assessment to analyze a school’s programs, systems, and challenges. Life West students received the link to the assessment in August and were encouraged to fill it out to help the college understand where additional time or resources should be directed. This feedback will be instrumental in figuring out which programs may need to be added or expanded.

“We can’t improve things, or celebrate what we’re doing well, unless that assessment is done,” Life West Student Life Manager Dani Lorta said. “Based on that assessment, we can determine what services we can or should be providing. Maybe there’s something we didn’t know we should be doing. We can then enhance our programs to better serve our student population.”

“This program helps colleges assess where they’re at with their range of mental health services and resources,” Pino said. “It helps identify where gaps are and implement what’s needed to ensure that students know colleges are there for them in various ways.”

Lorta also added that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic provided an even greater sense of urgency to spot where the college could improve its ability to meet student needs.

“When we add the layer of COVID-19 on top of a rigorous, time-consuming program, that’s when we start to see where stress points are,” Lorta said. “My hope is that we can identify those points and fill those gaps. It may not be about content. It may be about helping students understand where their barriers are and working with them to address those challenges.”

Mindfulness Program and WISE Time

Life West’s mental health resources include the school’s Mindfulness Program, which Pino coordinates. The program meets each Thursday, and sessions are open to students, faculty and staff. Members of the community often step up to lead these sessions and provide insight into different ways to improve mental health.

Recently, the college added a new weekly offering called WISE Time. Short for Weekly Intention Setting Effort, WISE Time offers members of the community a chance to concentrate energy on boosting those around them.

“Especially in this virtual environment, it’s much more difficult to recognize if a student is struggling or suffering in some fashion,” Pino said. “We needed to find a way to say, ‘We know you’re out there, and we want you to know that we’re here. Let’s get together to send some energetic love and light to you.’”

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