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 Virginia Commonwealth University is a JED Campus.

JED Campus Member Seal [View Image]

Virginia Commonwealth University is a JED Campus.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has joined the JED Campus program in support of student well-being and mental health. The program is designed to identify opportunities to enhance emotional health and substance abuse and suicide prevention efforts on campus in order to ensure that schools have the strongest possible mental health safety nets. By joining JED Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University demonstrates a commitment to the emotional well-being of its students. JED Campus schools embark on a multi-year strategic collaboration that not only assesses and enhances the work that is already being done, but helps create positive, lasting, systemic change in the campus community. To learn more visit

JED Strategic Plan Approach

Strategic planning allows schools to anticipate and evaluate clinical and programming needs, examine how they deploy both personnel and financial resources to address challenges, coordinate efforts across campus, and evaluate programming effectiveness.

Supporting life skills education is valuable in teaching healthy ways to cope with the stress of college life. Some of the life skills that are important to a student's well-being include managing friendships and relationships, problem-solving, decision making, identifying and managing emotions, healthy living, and finding the purpose, meaning and identity.

Research has shown that loneliness and isolation are significant risk factors for mental health problems and/or suicidal behavior. Therefore, supportive social relationships and feeling connected to campus, family and friends are protective factors that can help lower risk.

It is important to take action to identify students at risk for mental health problems and/or suicidal behavior, and also to promote emotional health awareness among those who interact with students the most - "gatekeepers" such as residence hall staff, academic advisors, faculty and even fellow students - as it is vital for these people to be able to recognize and refer a student who might be in distress.

Many students who need help may be reluctant or unsure of how to seek it out. Obstacles to help-seeking include lack of awareness of mental health services, skepticism about the effectiveness of treatment, prejudices associated-with mental illness, and uncertainty about costs or insurance coverage. Campuses should engage in a variety of activities designed to increase the likelihood that a student in need will seek help.

It is essential to offer accessible, consistent and high-quality mental health services to students. To make mental health and substance abuse care more comprehensive, it should include strong and flexible services, adequate staffing levels and staff diversity reflective of the student population, flexibility in treatment approaches, and clinic hours that are reflective of student schedules. Since most college clinics are free, the length of treatment is often limited. Therefore, it is important that campus mental health services can assist students in finding off-campus resources that can provide long-term care if needed.

The campus should have access to a well-publicized 24/7 crisis phone and/or chat line either through campus resources or local/national services. There should be a process in place to share information (as legally appropriate) between local ERs and school health and/or counseling services.

It has been well established that if the means to self-harm are removed or limited in an environment, it can prevent suicide and even limit accidental deaths. This is called "means restriction. " Limiting students' access to weapons, poisonous chemicals and rooftops, windows or other high places are all means restriction activities. Each campus should do an environmental scan for potential access to lethal or dangerous means.

Strategic Planning Approach Diagram [View Image]

JED Campus Program Committee

  • Jihad Aziz, Director of University Counseling Services
  • Karen Belanger, Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity
  • Dana Blackmer, Director of Sports Psychology
  • Kyle Dailey, Associate Dean for Student Affairs
  • Jimmy Gahagan, Director of VCU LEAD
  • Sarah Johns, Associate University Counsel and Assistant Attorney General
  • Lisa Joyner, Director of the Wellness Resource Center
  • Ian Kunkes, Director of Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity
  • Matt Lovisa, Director of Communications and Marketing Division of Student Affairs
  • Justin Moses, Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs
  • Howard M O’Berry, Assistant Chief, Director of Support Services
  • Kendall Plageman, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
  • Margaret Roberson, Director of University Student Health Services
  • Jody Symula, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
  • Lynanne Yndestad, Director of New Student and Family Programs
  • Danielle Dick, Director of the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute (COBE)
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