In light of Columbia’s infamous stress culture and a recent series of suicides, the University has released a set of reforms to its mental health policies, a majority of which are scheduled to take effect this coming year.
Last May, Valentini announced a set of 14 reforms, which constitute the first specific plans to change Columbia’s mental health policies as part of a four-year partnership with suicide prevention nonprofit the Jed Foundation. Among these are a revamped health website, peer-to-peer suicide prevention training during the New Student Orientation Program, a weekly community-building event, and an updated campus health assessment. In the same email, Valentini also publicized details regarding the JED partnership’s steering committee.
However, tangible changes in students’ lives have come at a slower rate. Transparency and efficiency ranked among the chief concerns for representatives of on-campus mental health advocacy groups at the first-ever Columbia Mental Health Coalition town hall discussion last May.
The administration has corresponded sparingly with students over the past year and a half regarding related policy changes. Columbia College Dean and Steering Group Chair James Valentini sent out emails to undergraduate students in October 2017 and February 2018 outlining several “general areas” for growth that the University sought to improve upon, but did not release any specific details as to how the University plans to “enhance systems, protocols and processes in order to coordinate necessary care for students.”
As the JED partnership enters its apex, more reforms are set to be rolled out down the road.