Kent State Named One of the Healthiest Universities in the Nation
Kent State University’s strategic focus on the health and well-being of students is receiving national recognition. Active Minds, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness among college students, announced Kent State as a winner of the prestigious 2018 Healthy Campus Award.
Active Minds worked with the nation’s leading experts in student and campus health and conducted an extensive assessment to select the winners. Kent State emerged as a leader for its creativity, teamwork, innovation and excellence. The university also stood out for championing student voices, working collaboratively and using data and metrics to guide and consistently improve efforts for students.
“We know that the habits formed during the college years often travel with our graduates when they leave the university and shape their quality of life for years to come,” says Kent State President Beverly J. Warren. "Our wellness team has provided many new and innovative initiatives to enhance healthy lifestyles, and most importantly, has guided our community toward a holistic approach to health and well-being.”
Summer Wigley, who graduated this spring, found the help she needed after enduring a tragic event in her family, coupled with a health scare. She hit rock bottom in her second year as a graduate assistant in Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services. Ms. Wigley disconnected socially and slowly retreated into a state of depression.
“I never thought I would be in a place of positivity after my diagnosis,” she says. “Thanks to the support of various health-related offices and programs at Kent State, it is my hope that other students never walk through a similar darkness.”
Innovative Practices at Kent State
A review panel for the Healthy Campus Award highlighted three innovative practices at Kent State:
A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State (Including Kent State of Wellness):
A systemwide initiative to improve health and wellness on all campuses. Kent State targets eight key areas ranging from mental health to physical activity, nutrition, smoking and tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, preventive care, sexual health and safety.
Policy and Systems Change:
Kent State expanded psychological services; implemented a smoke-free, tobacco-free policy; implemented comprehensive employee wellness; and modified the leave of absence policy to be more supportive of mental health.
Step Up and Speak Out:
The university’s collaborative program provides greater awareness of mental health concerns, including risk factors for suicide through printed materials, website, an app, in-person education, and is further enhanced by a campus specific 24-hour hotline (for medical and mental health assistance) and a state-wide text line.
“Kent State University stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” says Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds, the national nonprofit that presents the Healthy Campus Award as part of its commitment to student wellness. “They are a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a holistic approach to student success through a campus culture of health, resiliency and well-being.”
Kent State is one of only six other colleges and universities nationwide to receive the 2018 Healthy Campus Award including the University of South Florida, Arizona State University, University of South Carolina, Jefferson Community College, Duke University and University of Oregon.
As for Ms. Wigley, Kent State resources helped release her from the shadows of darkness, and now like a candle, she shares her flame so that others can ignite their own.
“I am here to show them this little light of mine,” she says. “Kent State University helped me discover this light, and I am forever grateful.”