WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), an association of universities that grant master's and doctoral degrees, and The Jed Foundation (JED), a non-profit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults, today announced a new initiative to support the mental health and wellness of master's and doctoral students. The 22-month project will create a foundation for evidence-based policies and resources to support graduate student mental health and well-being, prevent psychological distress, and address barriers to effective support and care. CGS and JED will give particular attention to the experiences of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities pursuing graduate education.
A growing body of evidence indicates that mental health challenges are common among graduate students. However, many barriers exist to effective support and care. These may include campus services that do not necessarily recognize the unique needs of graduate students, and a lack of evidence about what types of support are best suited to them. Students of different backgrounds may also face different sources of stress and may experience different levels of comfort in seeking help.
The new initiative, Supporting Mental Health and Wellness of Graduate Students will address these and other concerns across all broad fields of graduate study. A grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will support the council's focus on issues specific to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, while a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the council's work in the humanities.
"Compared with the undergraduate education context, there has been relatively little attention to supporting the mental health and wellness of master's and doctoral students," said CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega. "This is a high-priority issue for CGS and the graduate education community more broadly, and we are grateful to our funders for supporting our work on this issue in a coordinated, thoughtful way, and to JED for contributing their expertise."
The project will convene an advisory committee of experts and graduate education leaders (who can be viewed here), who will counsel CGS on its research and action plan. In addition, CGS will survey its member institutions to better understand existing policies and practices for supporting graduate student mental health and factors that may impact the design and delivery of services. In 2020, graduate deans, graduate students, mental health researchers, and other experts will convene in Washington, D.C., for a one-and-half-day workshop. The final project outcome will include a report and a statement of common principles for supporting graduate student mental health.
"In our work with colleges and universities across the country, we hear time and again the increasing concern for graduate and professional students' mental health and how best to support them," said Nance Roy, Chief Clinical Officer at The Jed Foundation. "To date, there is no framework focused specifically on the unique challenges and needs of graduate students. JED is excited to be part of this initiative that will not only identify those needs, but also provide recommended practices for addressing them."
The report resulting from the project will be released by December 2020.
About CGS The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization's mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.
About The Jed Foundation (JED) JED is a national nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation's teens and young adults. We're partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention programming and systems. We're equipping teens and young adults with the skills and support to grow into healthy, thriving adults; and we're encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.