Message to USC Students
From: Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
April 24, 2018
USC is an extraordinary place for you to flourish by achieving your personal dreams and professional aspirations, and by becoming critical and creative thinkers and engaged global citizens. However, this can only continue to be possible if we collectively cultivate a university culture and campus climate focused on wellness, especially in regard to supporting good mental health and emotional well-being. We know that the end of the semester can be a particularly stressful time and I want you to be aware of the resources we have available to you.
Over the last several years, we have seen a dramatic rise in the need for mental health resources on campus, and this mirrors the trend at colleges and universities across the country. The number of students reporting overwhelming stress and anxiety increases each year. We also know that the onset of depression and other lifelong mental health challenges can begin in college-aged adults and can sometimes lead to tragic and devastating consequences.
We need to care for each other, and we need to take time to care for ourselves. Our university can seem like a small city, but we are a family and your pain or that of someone else in our community affects us all.
Today we want to remind you of our commitment to your well-being, to your safety, and to your health. You matter to us and you matter to your friends and family. We want to help you be well, so we’re sharing the many support services we have available and those that are upcoming. And, we want you to help us: let us know how we can do better and how we can better support you.
During the fall of 2017, we began making significant changes to our mental health care by bringing USC Student Health Services and Student Counseling into the Department of Psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine, which allowed for clear clinical oversight to ensure we provide you with the highest quality of services. Under the direction of our new Executive Director of Student Mental Health, Dr. Robert Mendola, we began revamping policies and procedures and evaluating our need for new resources.
Based on your feedback, we knew we had to adjust resources to ensure that everyone seeking assistance received services promptly and with ease. This year, we have eliminated a waiting list and implemented a more thorough intake process for those in crisis. All students in crisis will have a counselor available to speak with them, including after-hours phone consultations. This winter we also developed “Feel Better” workshops focusing on stress, anxiety, and depression for all students to attend with no wait to enroll. By fall, we will have four additional counselors on staff and we will continue to examine our staffing needs in order to minimize wait times for counseling visits while providing care for a greater number of students on campus.
This spring, Student Health Services conducted the Healthy Minds Survey as part of our participation in the JED Campus Program. Based on the results, we will add in the coming months more initiatives for student well-being and more services to support mental health and wellness.
The new Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention provides support for students, faculty, and staff with an emphasis on well-being, threat assessment, and crisis response. In addition to helping our community thrive, the office can help you get connected to support resources, understand your options and suggest new pathways, and help you make wise decisions to continue to succeed academically and socially.
To that end, we developed a new student health leave policy and process, and we will soon hire a new health leave policy coordinator who will work closely with you and your academic units. The health leave process assists students in developing an individualized care plan so that they will get the help they need while they are away from campus. Upon return, it will be determined what, if any, support the student needs.
Together, the Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention and the Undergraduate Student Government are preparing to launch a pilot, first-year experience class to better prepare students to flourish at USC. This course will focus on thriving, lifestyle design, self-care, healthy relationships, and meaning and purpose.
Our Trojans Care for Trojans (TC4T) online care reporting program helps us identify students, faculty, and staff who may need assistance. This is a university resource that allows you to anonymously report concerns so that we may reach out directly and provide support to those in need.
The Office of Religious Life has more than 50 chaplains on staff representing all the world’s major religious traditions and many denominational perspectives as well. The deans of religious life, as well as the chaplains, are available for pastoral care and spiritual counseling for all students, regardless of religious, spiritual, theistic beliefs, affiliations, or identities.
I invite you to join us as we move toward an even more compassionate, inclusive, and nurturing campus culture. I hope you have a good end to the semester, and that your summer is healthy, safe, and productive.
Cc: C. L. Max Nikias