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January 28, 2022

Editorial: Well-Fest was a good first step to improving mental health

By The News-Letter | September 15, 2016

Hopkins’ six-month-old University Health and Wellness Task Force held its first major event, Well-Fest, on Friday, Sept. 9. This event marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a major step forward down the path of addressing Hopkins students’ mental health concerns.

Both student- and University-run, Well-Fest was a resounding success, featuring many familiar organizations like A Place to Talk, JHU Stressbusters, the Center for Health and Wellness (CHEW) and the Counseling Center.

The event was held on the Freshman Quad, a major thoroughfare for students of all years, and its aim was to help spread awareness about the mental wellness resources available for the Hopkins community. The groups also shared suggestions for stress-relieving activities that students could keep in mind as midterms start to approach.

The success of Well-Fest is especially impressive and promising given how recently the Wellness Task Force was formed, and it indicates that the University is listening to and taking steps to address students’ concerns about mental health. The pressure of Hopkins academics and the requisite extracurricular commitments is far from negligible, causing understandably high levels of stress even during relatively calm periods of the year.

The Editorial Board commends the University and the student groups involved in Well-Fest for actively addressing the issue of mental health on campus. We appreciate that the event was held early on in the semester so that students, especially freshmen, could be informed about where to go to for health and wellness care ahead.

Well-Fest marked an important step in the right direction, and the Editorial Board hopes that University health and wellness organizations and student groups will continue to serve as resources for students throughout the semester through similar events as well as more individualized care.

The Task Force also recently distributed a Mental Health Survey over email to ascertain how best to continue the improvements to Hopkins mental health services. Questions include, “How often, if ever, were you so overwhelmed or depressed during the previous academic year that it was difficult to function?” and “If you have previously considered scheduling an appointment with a professional mental health counselor at JHU but decided not to, what was the primary reason you did not schedule a meeting?” The survey is entirely anonymous and asks about a range of issues from previous diagnoses to what times of the semester are most stressful.

Once the survey results are in, the Task Force will hopefully be able to implement more permanent and fundamental changes to Hopkins’ mental wellness resources. Any progress Hopkins can make to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness on campus and to increase the availability of positive resources will be a valuable improvement.

The Editorial Board hopes that students will feel increasingly supported by the University’s wellness care programs as they continue to improve. In the meantime, we encourage students to participate in the Task Force’s survey in order to help administrators gain a better understanding and more accurate picture of the state of mental health at Hopkins. Based on the feedback they receive, administrators can tailor programs to fit the specific needs of our community.

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