Ohio State’s wellness app has been downloaded enough times that the number of devices with the app could fill the Schottenstein Center’s seats almost three times.
Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce McPheron said that the app was downloaded 51,000 times in its first 10 days before the University Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs, Student Life & Research Committee heard an update from members of the Suicide and Mental Health Taskforce’s implementation team Wednesday.
McPheron said that the challenges students face require continued attention from the university.
“Those stresses are great,” McPheron said. “We cannot pretend that we don’t know the magnitude of those stresses and so we look for a variety of different ways to really drive our work forward and help lift people up.”
In April 2018, University President Michael V. Drake formed the taskforce in response to two student deaths resulting from falls from parking garages. In September 2018, the Suicide and Mental Health Taskforce gave recommendations for improving Ohio State’s mental health services.
In response to the recommendations, the Ohio State: Wellness App launched Jan. 29 and was automatically downloaded to more than 23,000 student iPads and made available on Apple Inc.’s App Store. The app was designed to help students proactively deal with all aspects of wellness and includes tabs designed to support students in different ways, according to previous Lantern reporting.
“We define wellness in a variety of broad categories, everything from mental health and bonds to financial literacy and financial wellness,” McPheron said.
Members also cited college-embedded counselors and campus infrastructure changes as improvements to the university’s mental health environment.
Micky Sharma, director of Counseling and Consultation Service, said embedding counselors in specific colleges is important to increase access for students, particularly minorities.
“Research is clear, if you want to reach students of color, you need to go and be where they are,” Sharma said. “You cannot just wait back for them to come to a main office.”
There are currently clinicians embedded in the Colleges of Social Work; Business; Public Health; Engineering; and the Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. There is also an embedded clinician position in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which Sharma said he believes is the first of its kind.
Taskforce members said some of the more visible changes on campus can be seen in parking garages with signage displaying crisis phone numbers and fences on the top levels.
“In addition to the wonderful programs that have come from the taskforce … we’ve made some changes to the physical safety and security of the campus that I think have been meaningful and impactful,” Drake said.