The Undergraduate Assembly aims to tackle mental wellness this year, focusing on the distribution of a wellness guide that informs Penn students of resources on campus.
The student governing body is circulating a list of mental health resources, planning to launch a study to learn more about the struggles Penn students face, and continue working to integrate Counseling and Psychological Services clinicians in more undergraduate schools.
The initiatives were planned before the death of CAPS Director Gregory Eells in early September, but UA members said the measures took on renewed importance after the tragedy.
The UA started off the semester by distributing the wellness guide at their table at the Student Activities Council fair, College senior and UA President Natasha Menon said. The wellness guide was also passed out at an ice cream social hosted by the UA and CAPS on Aug. 31.
The wellness guide is a handout with contact information for different mental health resources on campus, Menon said. She said the UA is currently looking for additional ways to distribute the wellness guide to Penn students.
"These were already projects in place before [Eells'] passing, but I think all the wellness partners are even more determined to create an environment that fosters mental wellness on campus, hopefully through these initiatives," Menon said.
The UA will continue their tabling initiative on Locust Walk this semester, Menon said, with the intention of distributing wellness guides to students passing by. Building upon the physical distribution, she said the UA may also upload a PDF of the guide to their website or send it to students via email.
Wharton sophomore and UA Secretary Dante Diggs is in the early stages of implementing a longitudinal wellness study, which will monitor the mental wellness of 50 students from each undergraduate school throughout their four years at Penn.
Diggs is currently meeting with professors to develop a survey with questions that will provide insight into the mental health struggles that Penn students face. He said his next steps will be to construct effectively worded questions and to figure out how to engage students with the survey.
Diggs said the goal of the project is to pinpoint specific stressors for students and then relay the findings to the administration.
“We tend to have to shoot in the dark and find out what we think is a problem, or what may not be a problem, on our own,” Diggs said. “I think it would help a lot for administrators and for students to understand what the actual pain points are by analyzing students over the four years.”
Additional mental wellness initiatives include College sophomore and Equity and Inclusion Committee Director Mary Sadallah’s ongoing work to integrate CAPS resources across campus.
Sadallah worked on this project last year and presented her ideas at the “Your Big Idea” wellness competition in April. The project aims to extend the reach of CAPS beyond its traditional office to make it easily accessible to students on campus. She plans to continue her work with CAPS this year.