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This column, by Skip Lee, Colorado Mountain College Leadville dean of student affairs, appeared in the April 26 edition of the Leadville Herald-Democrat. 

By Skip Lee

In 2017, Colorado Mountain College was selected as a JED Campus. The Jed Foundation (JED) was founded in 2000 by Donna and Phil Satow, after their son Jed died by suicide. JED Campus is a nationwide initiative that works with colleges to help overcome the stigma of mental health issues. The Leadville campus is embarking on a four-year strategic partnership with JED that assesses and enhances the work the campus is already doing to create positive change.

Our goal is to continue building an environment where students learn and thrive. This includes breaking down barriers to success. Recent data shows that of the top 10 factors affecting student academic performance, five were related to mental health issues. Our partnership with JED demonstrates the college’s commitment to the emotional well-being of our students.

Through CMC’s partnership with JED, the campus receives a dedicated JED advisor to assist us throughout the program. JED will provide technical assistance, access to resources and consultation, and will monitor our progress on action steps and objectives. We have completed an assessment of campus policies and programs and will receive an evaluation from JED highlighting our strengths and looking at recommended changes that can increase our effectiveness. We will administer two Healthy Minds surveys that assess students’ attitudes, behaviors and awareness of mental health issues. We will use information from the surveys to see how those behaviors have changed over the course of the program. The goal is to develop a long-term strategic plan.

The Colorado Health Foundation is providing funding for on-campus counseling services through our partnership with Solvista Health. We are receiving additional funding to implement responder resilience training into our fire academy program. This training increases awareness and provides skills that can help students cope with the unavoidable stress and traumatic events in this line of work. Often provided at the professional level, this training is cutting-edge at the collegiate level. Solvista Health is helping coordinate the training.

The JED initiative supports the campus’s continuing commitment to be progressive in providing quality education and services to our students and the community.