Colorado Mountain College recently received Healthy Minds designation collegewide from the Colorado Department of Higher Education for its ongoing mental health and wellness programs. Photo by Natuza Olen

Colorado Mountain College earns Healthy Minds designation

CMC recognized by the state for addressing student mental health needs

The Colorado Department of Higher Education recently awarded Colorado Mountain College a Healthy Minds designation, recognizing CMC’s ongoing work in addressing the mental health needs of its students.

“It’s wonderful to acknowledge the important work campuses are doing to support student mental health and well-being,” said Lisa Doak, CMC assistant vice president of student services.

For Dr. Lisa Runck, associate dean for student affairs at CMC Spring Valley and Glenwood Springs, the Healthy Minds designation recognizes the college’s longstanding commitment to students’ mental health and wellness needs.

“Colorado Mountain College has been actively engaged in these efforts for at least a decade,” Runck said. “When we provide support for the student, we’re not only helping our student, but possibly that student’s family and the larger community. The ripple effect creates positive outcomes in many ways.”

CMC is now one of six colleges and universities in the state to receive the designation. Of the higher education institutions earning a CDHE Healthy Minds designation, only Colorado Mountain College is a dual-mission college, meaning it offers certificates and associate degrees, in addition to bachelor’s degrees.

Well-being support at all campuses

To qualify for the designation, CMC submitted an 11-page report in response to CDHE’s Healthy Minds Campus Checklist. The checklist identifies efforts at Colorado’s higher education institutions that offer ready access to mental health information and services, online and free counseling, innovative wellness programs and more.

Collegewide, Colorado Mountain College’s initiatives include YOU@CMC, a one-click online confidential student website that offers tips and tools for managing mental and physical health. CMC also provides faculty sessions on how to address and make referrals regarding mental health and wellness issues in the classroom, in-person and virtually.

Individual campuses incorporate mental health and well-being support into their activities.

For example, among other tactics, according to college counselor Jen Brennan, the Spring Valley and Glenwood Center campuses have a mental health and wellness committee that includes staff, faculty and administrators. “Our goals are to destigmatize asking for or needing help, and having resources and support available for students,” Brennan said.

Additionally, science professor Dr. Kim Harding created a well-being program called Ascend and Transcend several years ago. She teaches the program to students, staff and faculty, and incorporates it into her science classes.

Like CMC Spring Valley and Glenwood, the Rifle campus holds peer mentoring sessions that help students navigate college. The campus also holds monthly student success seminars on organization and self-care.

At CMC Aspen and at the Lappala Center in Carbondale, a college counselor visits each class regularly to meet students and share information about campus and community mental health and wellness programs.

CMC Vail Valley at Edwards offers hiking, yoga classes and yoga for veterans, and holds student success seminars on self-care and other topics.

Over at CMC Steamboat Springs, a mental health clinician and nurse practitioner are on campus each week, and peer mentors are available to all incoming residence hall students.

For CMC Summit County, the campus’s Culinary Arts program offers a Nutrition for Mind and Body Health course to students, and faculty take training in integrating mindfulness activities into classes.

CMC Leadville and CMC Salida maintain a partnership with SolVista Health for student referral, counseling and therapy both virtually and in-person.

In addition, during September and October all of CMC’s campuses participate in a campaign promoting mental health and well-being. Activities, workshops and community events are held encouraging awareness, support and tangible take-aways to address well-being.

The college is also planning a spring 2022 campaign to promote awareness and discussion around resiliency. The campaign will encourage individuals and communities to strengthen the ability to cope and respond to adversity through an interactive process.

“It’s so important that Colorado higher-education institutions are stepping up to help their students and communities and we encourage others to do the same,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “Colorado is breaking down barriers and stigmas and making it easier for students to focus on learning by providing mental health services.”

Currently, 61% of Colorado’s adult population has a higher education credential. The state’s strategic plan, called Colorado Rises, calls for 66% of adults to earn a college certificate or degree by 2025. Designations such as Healthy Minds are supporting students in achieving this goal. Visit Colorado Department of Higher Education to learn more.