Champlain College Makes Tremendous Impact on Student Mental Health With JED Campus

Champlain College campus in Burlington, Vermont.

By Kim Greene

Champlain College joined JED Campus in 2019 to make the mental health of their students a top priority. Using strategic interventions, the college aimed to reduce suicide risk and substance misuse on their Burlington, Vermont, campus.

Four years later, having completed the JED Campus program, Champlain College serves as an example of what institutions can accomplish with a steadfast commitment to student well-being. 

“Champlain College was just beginning their work as a JED Campus when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Like many schools, they saw students struggle with mental health and also navigated staff turnover,” said Erlinda Delacruz, a JED senior advisor who worked with the college. “However, Champlain was incredibly resilient and able to create a culture of care across their campus.”

Over the course of the program, the college followed a strategic plan that led to notable improvements in protecting student mental health, including:

  • Expanding InSight. In this required four-year program, students learn skills to take ownership of their career and finances. Because of their work with JED Campus, the college added well-being as the third cornerstone of the program. Students must complete milestones each semester related to well-being, such as creating a self-care action plan.
  • Improving Champ 101. As part of InSight, students take part in Champ 101, a 10-week experience to help them transition to college life. The college partners one faculty or staff facilitator with one peer facilitator. Each facilitation pair meets with their cohort of 20 students every week. All facilitators are trained in how to identify and refer students who are struggling to care. 
  • Launching Dare to CARE. The college began this campaign to help students access support for themselves and others. Using educational programs, events, and communication outreach, the campaign also teaches students to take safe and effective action if they see a potential problem.

The impact of these changes show in the data, according to the Healthy Minds Study administered on campus at the beginning (2019) and completion (2023) of the JED Campus program. Notably:

  • Percentage of students who agreed that student mental and emotional well-being is a priority for the college — Before: 65%. After: 73%.
  • Percentage of students who said they knew where to go on campus to get professional help for their mental or emotional health — Before: 84%. After: 90%.
  • Percentage of students who agreed that the campus climate promoted free and open discussion about mental and emotional health — Before: 79%. After: 88%.

“Participating in the JED Campus program was the catalyst Champlain College needed to review our well-being protocols as a whole,” said Susan Waryck, dean of students at Champlain. “The strategic plan the JED team helped our campus create has and will continue to guide our work for several years.”

A hearty congratulations to Champlain College for the work they’ve done with JED Campus — and the work they will do as they carry out their sustainability plan. 

Learn more about how colleges and universities can protect mental health and prevent suicide with JED’s Higher Education resources and services.

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