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Board of Trustees present updates on mental health task force, esports program

Esports players gather together to exchange game experience. Credit: Courtesy of Ryan Mayle

The Board of Trustees Academic Affairs and Student Life committee met on Thursday, with the main focus on updates to the mental health task force and the implementation of an esports program on campus.

Members of the mental health task force provided updates on the progress of implementing the recommendations and what to expect moving forward. Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, senior vice president for student life, noted that a foundational problem was students not knowing where they could access mental health services on campus.

“It’s important to help them identify the best resources and how we can access them,” Adams-Gaston said. “And that’s where we were not very successful as an institution.”

Shamina Merchant, Undergraduate Student Government president and student representative on the task force, pointed to a USG feedback tool to gauge student perception of mental health services available on campus, a comprehensive mobile application that will help identify what resources are available to help students.

Merchant also said hiring processes are already underway for three new counselors to be added to the Counseling and Consultation Services by the end of the fall semester.

Merchant addressed the Stress, Trauma and Resilience program at the Wexner Medical Center that is “earmarked for students who have experienced crime.”

“[The STAR program], at the Wexner Medical Center, is collaborating to have a case manager and counselor available at Counseling and Consultation Services on campus in the spring,” Merchant said. “The Wexner Medical Center will also be creating a intensive outpatient program for people ages 18 to 25, and they’re already working to review our suicide screening protocols.”

Additionally, Merchant noted USG’s participation in subscribing to Headspace, a guided meditation app intended for reducing stress, and making the subscription available to students.

The Board then discussed an esports initiative, inviting Deborah Grzybowski, co-director of the game studies and esports curriculum development and associate professor of practice in the Department of Engineering Education, to speak. Grzybowski said the new program that will offer students an interactive esports experience on the second floor of Lincoln Tower with the goal of of increasing personal and professional development, while moving students to think globally about esports programs.

“Part of this is student interest, but that student interest is based on what’s happening around the world,” Gryzbowski said, noting the increasing demand for gamer intelligence in the workforce.

Gryzbowski is also working to implement a first-of-its-kind game studies and esports curriculum to be offered in fall 2019, spanning across five colleges.

“There are other universities across the U.S. and they are enrolling 800-plus students a year in their programs that are not as comprehensive as the one we are developing.”

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