The SGA teamed up with organizations on the campus to create an online portal where University of Maryland students and faculty could access all the university’s mental health resources in one place.
Although the University Health Center offers a manual to students and faculty providing information about different mental health-related resources, this manual does not contain specifics about which services cost money or prescribe medication, among other details that people may need to know, said Melanie Zheng, director of the Student Government Association Health and Wellness Committee. The new portal will include information about the services the Health Center offers, such as short-term individual therapy and emergency mental health care.
The portal will also feature information about resources off the campus, Zheng said, such as national hotlines and resources in D.C., including the Drug Referral Hotline and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
During the fall 2015 semester, the SGA Health and Wellness Committee began surveying students affected by mental health issues, which was the first step toward creating a portal that would unify mental health resources available on campus, she said.
“We found that UMD has great resources, but students are not aware of all of them,” Zheng said. “It is hard to find a unified platform for them to access similar resources.”
The Health and Wellness Committee consolidated these resources by categorizing services and uploading as well as updating contact information, she said. The committee completed the portal over spring break and expects to publish the website within the next week, Zheng said.
Many student groups on the campus have expressed interest in working on mental health issues, Zheng said. While the SGA spearheaded the development of the portal, groups like the Residence Hall Association helped brainstorm ideas for the portal last semester.
“It is a concern because we are the primary student-run governing body that represents the interests of campus residents,” RHA President Steven Chen said. “Mental health is an issue that many of our students face so we wanted to advocate on their behalf.”
The Health and Wellness Committee and the SGA’s Information Technology Committee are also sending out a listserv to go hand-in-hand with the portal, Zheng said. The listserv is for individuals and student groups interested in mental health events, resources, volunteer opportunities and research positions at this university, said Alex Mangerian, a member of the Health and Wellness Committee.
With the help of Kathy Dow-Burger, a clinical assistant professor in the hearing and speech sciences department, Mangerian, president of Autism Speaks U at this university, made the listserv to allow groups to post and view all the different ways to get involved with mental health opportunities.
Mangerian, a junior physiology and neurobiology major, said after working with various groups and departments that focus on mental health, said he discovered that they did not know much about each other’s activities and events. He pitched the idea for the University of Maryland mental health and wellness listserv after joining the Health and Wellness Committee in the fall.
The committee began sending out the weekly listserv last Wednesday, Mangerian said. Anyone can sign up by sending “Subscribe umdmhw” and their name to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SGA will vote at its end-of-session meeting in April to establish a position in the Health and Wellness Committee that will be responsible for updating the portal and keeping track of feedback, Zheng said.
“We are taking concrete steps in SGA to make sure that mental health resources are sustained in the future,” said Adam Hemmeter, a sophomore economics and materials science and engineering major and director of the SGA Information Technology Committee.