Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 28, 2021

President Daniels must make mental health a top priority

October 22, 2015

By EDITORIAL BOARD

In an email to the student body Wednesday morning, senior Jason Plush announced his resignation from the post of executive president of the Student Government Association (SGA), citing struggles with his mental health as the reason for stepping down. When Plush’s resignation goes into effect Friday at noon, Executive Vice President Jack Bartholet will replace him.

Plush talked about his confidence in Bartholet’s ability to lead the SGA, calling him a strong source of support this semester.

Per ruling of the SGA bylaws, Bartholet’s first action as executive president will be to choose three candidates from within the SGA to fill the vacancy of the position of executive vice president, from which the Senate will elect one.

The Editorial Board is confident that the SGA will successfully transition into the new leadership, with the help of the other members of the Executive Board, John Stanton and Matthew Bee. More importantly, we applaud Plush’s brave public recognition of the state of his mental health. He spoke frankly to the SGA and student body about his condition and the help he has sought. Plush was honest about how unsustainable and overwhelming his position and lifestyle had become, likely ringing chords with many other students who feel overcommitted. His resignation provides confirmation that mental health and mental illness is a great concern of the Hopkins community.

Plush’s bravery and inspiring dialogue on mental health should act as a catalyst for change in the way we, as a University and as a community, approach the issue of mental health. While the SGA has served us well, they should recognize this chance to combat a real problem on campus, using the public momentum to enact substantial change in students’ wellbeing.

SGA is meeting with President Daniels tonight with mental health at the top of the agenda, and we hope Daniels will recognize how serious SGA is about this and how eager the student body is to address the issue. We call on President Daniels to take an active role in fostering mental health awareness, prevention and resources on campus, and we encourage him to declare student mental health a personal priority for his Office. We urge the University to commit substantial time and resources to studying mental health holistically, as SGA recommends, to obtain information about the specific underlying causes of mental illness on our campus. Daniels should direct the Homewood Student Affairs office to formally evaluate the issue by studying other schools’ efforts to address mental health and create supportive cultures that encourage students to discuss openly and seek help.

It is only once we have a comprehensive analysis of the Hopkins community and its impacts on mental health that the University can create and implement substantive preventative measures. You only have to look at how many people have shared Plush’s story to see that we are ready to tackle this matter.

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