Breaking down YOU@UMN

The new platform for student wellness and mental health contains tools and dynamic content to help students gain access to mental health and personal wellness resources.

The+YOU%40UMN+homepage+offers+ways+for+students+to+customize+and+prioritize+specific+aspects+of+mental+health+and+well+being.+https%3A%2F%2Fyou.umn.edu%2Fhome

The YOU@UMN homepage offers ways for students to customize and prioritize specific aspects of mental health and well being. https://you.umn.edu/home

by Ellie Roth

The University of Minnesota announced YOU@UMN at the June Board of Regents meeting, a new platform launched at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester that aims to help students care for their wellbeing and take preventative action to ensure mental health.

The platform, created by Grit Digital Health, is part of the next phase of the University’s President’s Initiative on Student Mental Health (PRISMH) plan that the University launched last summer. Through this program, the University has made new investments in mental health resources and technologies.

YOU@UMN helps students explore the intersectionality of mental health and overall well being. The platform contains tools, dynamic content and resources where students can choose personal wellness goals and find steps for success.The platform is meant to navigate students to programs, people and other support resources available to them.

The announcement of the new platform comes at a time when mental health is disproportionately worsening among young adults, according to Maggie Towle, PRISMH co-chair and senior associate vice president for the office of student affairs. Towle presented YOU@UMN to the Board of Regents in June.

President Joan Gabel cited a study by Healthy Minds Network at the Board meeting, which found that the mental health of college students nationally has steadily declined over the last 8 years, with a 135% increase in depression and a 110% increase in anxiety.

“We can’t mental-health-clinician our way out of this,” said Gabel. “We need to get at underlying causes and go upstream so we can figure out why the demand keeps growing or we’ll never catch up.”

YOU@UMN aims to do just that, according to Lisa Stephenson, an associate department director at University Recreation and Wellness.

Stephenson said the University currently has an array of “great mental health resources” when it comes to addressing mental health crises, but lacks in preventative mental health measures. YOU@UMN aims to fill this gap and consolidate all resources in one place, she said.

“The sooner that students can build awareness in themselves, whether it be triggers associated with stress or behaviors that they know can create anxiety, the more they can identify coping mechanisms that will help manage those behaviors,” Stephenson said.

The Office for Student Affairs met with the Student Mental Health Advisory Committee to find an appropriate platform that would house all of the mental health and wellbeing resources in one place. Student trials of the platform began in the 2021 Spring semester. Towle said students have been involved in every phase of the process, from choosing what resources would be available in the app all the way to vendor selection.

“Students have been asking for a centralized place to find all the mental health services and resources for the past several years,” Towle said.

Stephenson said it is important that students can find all these resources in one place.

“When we did listening sessions with students, the distance between knowing that there were great resources available and finding and connecting with those resources was huge,” Stephenson said.

Towle said an important group her team has worked closely with is the Faculty Consultative Committee to train professors on YOU@UMN. Ideally, she said, every faculty member would hold up their cell phones in the classroom and show students how to access the platform themselves.

“We wanted to make sure we had faculty buy in and support as they are concerned about student mental health and want to have resources to share with students,” Towle said. “We need faculty to have an easy ‘one stop’ place to access all mental health resources for their students.”

Stephenson and Towle said they hope the platform can be a tool that will overall help guide students to leading healthier, well-rounded lives.

“We don’t want students to just survive or get by,” Stephenson said. “We want them to be connected to resources, to opportunities, to needs and interests that allow them to thrive.”