Healthy Minds survey released to all Vanderbilt students

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Maddie Brown

The Healthy Minds Survey, the first survey conducted at Vanderbilt with a specific focus on mental health, was released to the students at Vanderbilt University on Monday, October 24. All graduate and undergraduate students across the ten schools at Vanderbilt will be receiving an email containing the survey, which will remain open for three weeks.

The survey takes around 30 minutes to complete, according to Laura Walaszek Dermody, the Director of Assessment and Special projects at Vanderbilt. The survey will consist of multiple choice questions which focus on knowledge and attitudes regarding mental health and mental-health services around campus.

“Some students may finish it really quickly if they have not used certain services or experienced certain things,” Dermody said. “Depending on how you answer, some additional questions will pop up.”

A group of researchers at the University of Michigan created this survey, which has been used by campuses nationwide for a number of years. Cynthia Cyrus, the Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs, describes this survey as the dominant survey for mental health in the academic sphere.

Cynthia Cyrus

Cynthia Cyrus, Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs

So, why distribute the survey now? Rachel Eskridge, the Director of the Center for Student Wellbeing, notes the large number of students and organizations who have expressed a desire to create their own mental health surveys. Data from the Quality of Life Survey, distributed to students annually, has also been a factor.

“I think we are aware that students are stressed and the Quality of Life Survey does point to that as well,” Eskridge said. “So what we wanted to do with this survey was get more information on how students are coping.”

Demody and Cyrus stress that the recommendations received from this survey will be put to good use.

“We want to take that information and improve the services we already have on campus,” Dermody said.

Cyrus puts no limit on the places on campus which may benefit from the recommendations of this survey.

“We are not closing the door to what scope the recommendations may take,” Cyrus said. “For Vanderbilt, this is the first targeted mental health survey.”

In early spring, a committee consisting of faculty, staff and students will gather to look at the data and the campus recommendations.

Laura Walaszek Dermody

Laura Walaszek Dermody, Director of Assessment and Special projects at Vanderbilt

“We want the campus as a whole to grapple with what the data is telling us,” Cyrus said.

Through this survey, Vanderbilt is reinforcing their focus on student wellbeing.

“This is one of the chancellor’s strong priorities that we consider mental health and wellbeing as part of the fundamental level set for the community,” Cyrus said. “This is part of his agenda as chancellor.”

Students are encouraged to go online and complete this survey within the next three weeks. As an extra incentive, ten $100 gift cards will be randomly distributed to students who complete the survey.

For further questions regarding the survey or the Healthy Minds study, please contact Rachel Eskridge, Director of the Center for Student Wellbeing, at rachel.eskridge@vanderbilt.edu.