Jefferson College Named Healthiest Community College Campus in America

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Healthy Campus Award

Jefferson College is a winner of the 2016 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award and recognized as one of the healthiest college campuses in the nation.

The prestigious award celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate excellence in prioritizing and promoting the health and well-being of their students. It is the only national recognition of its kind that celebrates leadership, innovation, collaboration, and excellence in campus health.

Jefferson College was the only higher education institution in Missouri and the only community college in the United States to be acknowledged. This marks the second year that the College has been recognized by Active Minds for its health-conscious emphasis.

“Jefferson College is extremely honored to be recognized as the healthiest community college campus in America,” said Jefferson College President Dr. Raymond Cummiskey. “I am proud of the positive impact that we have on our students’ lives, especially efforts to improve their physical and mental health and well-being. This award reflects the collective efforts of our staff and faculty and resource partnerships with Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation, Mercy, and COMTREA to create a supportive campus environment where comprehensive well-being is a priority. As an institution of higher learning, we have an obligation to promote a culture of wellness and address the needs of the whole student.”

Students enrolled at schools that focus on campus health often find that the programs and services offered there are life changing. “I was bullied in high school and struggled with terrible depression,” says Jefferson College student Haley Arbuthnot, an art major from Arnold. “It wasn’t until I enrolled at Jefferson College that I was able to start seeing a therapist, thanks to Jefferson’s free counseling service. I’m living proof that, if provided with access to these important resources, any student can thrive in college.”

Jefferson College joins five other colleges and universities in receiving the prestigious award:

California State University, Long Beach; Lawrence University; Sacramento State; School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ohio State University is also recognized as an honorable mention recipient.

The Healthy Campus Award involves an extensive application process as well as multiple endorsements and interviews. Each applicant is assessed across eight criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of prominent researchers and health and higher education experts.

“Jefferson College stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” said Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds, the national nonprofit that presents the Healthy Campus Award. “Jefferson College is a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a campus culture of health, safety, and well-being.”

The review panel for the Healthy Campus Award cited the following key strategies in particular regarding Jefferson College:

Service Beyond the Campus

Because Jefferson College is located in a rural area with few medical and dental services, the school not only provides health services for students, it also serves as the wellness center for residents throughout the area.

Smart Partnerships

Major lack of resources has not stopped Jefferson College. Through smart partnerships, the college offers a health clinic for medical care via Mercy; free mental health services via COMTREA and suicide prevention trainings; and fitness equipment as well as wellness, nutrition, and exercise classes thanks to grant funds from the Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation.

Strong Student Voices

Jefferson College pursues its healthy campus goals creatively and in collaboration with students. The student government is deeply dedicated to health and well-being; the campus’s Active Minds chapter actively promotes mental health awareness; and faculty, staff, and students together cultivate a climate of caring.

Some of the College’s efforts to support student health include:

  • The creation of a holistic wellness program and the employment of a wellness coordinator to address seven dimensions of wellness (emotional, physical, social, occupational, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual) in conjunction with over $460,000 in grant funds from the Jefferson Memorial Community Foundation;
  • Full-time student counseling services through a partnership with COMTREA (Community Treatment, Inc.);
  • The establishment of an on-campus health clinic as a partnership with Mercy Hospital Jefferson;
  • The implementation of a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus environment;
  • Programming and support resources such as “r u ok?,” question persuade refer, suicide prevention, and bystander intervention; and
  • Student groups/organizations such as Active Minds and Psychology Club.

The award is unique in defining health broadly. Rather than focusing exclusively on mental or physical health, the award focuses on how fostering a culture of health serves to address the myriad challenges facing universities. While other awards celebrate the success of a particular initiative or program on campus, this award champions entire institutions for taking a campus-wide, public health approach to promoting mental health alongside physical health. The award is also unique in valuing student input and leadership. Applicants provided endorsement from their student body and judges assessed for evidence that campus efforts positively translate to students’ actual experience on campus. Students played a key part in reviewing and selecting winners.

The Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. Additional resources are available from Active Minds, including photos and a downloadable summary called Key Findings from the Nation’s Healthiest Campuses (http://www.activeminds.org/award)

About the Healthy Campus Award

The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award recognizes higher education institutions that provide access to good quality healthcare and take a comprehensive approach to promoting and protecting both the physical and mental health of students. The award criteria–which includes a focus on long-term solutions and data-driven measures–align with the Healthy Campus 2020 framework and characteristics established by the American College Health Association, the Strategic Primer on College Student Mental Health produced by NASPA: Administrators in Higher Education, the American Psychological Association, the American Council on Education, and the TJF/SPRC Comprehensive Model for Mental Health Protection and Suicide Prevention.

About Active Minds       

Active Minds (www.activeminds.org) is the nation’s premier nonprofit for supporting the mental health of students. Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds is empowering a new generation to speak openly, act courageously, and change the conversation about mental health for everyone. Active Minds has student-led chapters at more than 400 colleges, universities, and high schools nationwide and internationally, and is headquartered in Washington, DC. Follow them on Facebook at ActiveMindsInc and on Twitter and Instagram at @Active_Minds.

About The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation       

The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation serves to improve the lives of people with serious mental illness by investing in innovative projects having national transformational impact. The foundation was established in 2001 in Hudson, Ohio, as a private grant making foundation. Peg Morgan’s husband, Burton D. Morgan, provided the initial donation that established the foundation and put into motion plans to carry out Peg’s decades-long desire to help families grappling with mental illness. For more information, visit: www.mcmfdn.org.