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Message on student safety and well-being

The following message was sent to Northwestern students from Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin.

Your safety and well-being are our top priorities at Northwestern. To further bolster our ongoing commitment, Student Affairs is announcing that two new staff members have been approved to be hired within Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). They will provide clinical support services within CAPS and do suicide screenings within the Northwestern University Health Services (NUHS). Additionally, a campus-wide task force focusing on your well-being has been created and is scheduled to meet in January. These new initiatives are being made in addition to the seven new counselors we have added in recent years, the creation of the Student Assistance and Support Services in the Dean of Students Office and the many other resources available, which are listed in several places, including a recent article on Northwestern Now.

The two new positions, developed and approved by senior leadership at the University, represent a novel approach to emerging, proven practices. The initiative is tailored to the Northwestern environment and student experience. The two positions, housed in CAPS but overseen by CAPS and UHS, represent a model of rapid response in CAPS for mental-health crisis screening. This collaborative approach of medical and mental healthcare responds holistically to you.

I share your concerns about the need for the University to respond to the fullest extent possible to issues surrounding students who may be struggling, and we have worked diligently and deliberately to do so. The issues of student health and well-being are of the utmost concern for me and the entire Northwestern community. While we will continue to focus our attention, care and resources on these critical issues, we need you to seek help when you begin to feel you are not coping as you once did. 

We know that early understanding and intervention often make a substantial difference in getting students timely access to needed resources before and when they are struggling. At Northwestern, we are committed to continually reviewing our approach, enhancing our services and maintaining strong partnerships to improve the well-being of all of our students. In addition to the new positions, Provost Holloway and I also are launching the previously mentioned task force in January. This campus-wide approach to student wellness, which includes students, will further connect all aspects of your Northwestern experience.

The University’s approach to your wellness, particularly around mental health, is part of a broader strategy undertaken by Student Affairs in recent years to ensure we succeed in our mission to help you sustain a safe and healthy Northwestern experience. It also comes at a time when national rates of suicide are rising. This is a public health emergency, and the number of students experiencing these issues is growing. The planning and steps we continue to take to respond to our community’s needs represent Northwestern’s part in helping to create a community of care. At the same time, I ask that you support each other and assist others in seeking help when necessary.

As the quarter comes to a close, I wish you all well. As always, if you need assistance, please reach out to any number of resources on campus here to serve you: 

Topics: Announcements

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