Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Office of College Advancement
Fremont, CA-The collective efforts of the Ohlone College community in addressing mental health issues among students are beginning to have an impact. New data, gathered in the most recent student health survey, reveals that a combination of awareness, training, and one-to-one interaction with students is meeting the goals of STEP Up Ohlone to create a vibrant, more connected community at the College. STEP Up is making a noticeable difference in the academic and personal lives of students.
In spring 2015 Ohlone College participated in the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), a survey administered by the American College Health Association. The sample included 607 students from 25 randomly selected classes on both the Fremont and Newark campuses. At least half (51%) of Ohlone students feel that Ohlone's campus climate encourages free and open discussion about mental and emotional health-hopeful news in a society where such issues are still heavily stigmatized and often portrayed in a negative light.
While the overwhelming majority of Ohlone students (84%) describe their general health as "good" to "excellent," new information reveals that mental health issues remain a key barrier that impacts academic performance. NCHA data also reveals that nearly 1 in 10 (9.2%) of Ohlone students admit to considering suicide in the past 12 months, and 2.9% actually attempted it. While these rates reflect a decrease from the 2010 results of the same survey, they are still disturbing and show there is more room for growth in this area.
"There are hopeful signs that the tide is turning," says Nancy Dinsmore, an Ohlone nursing professor and member of the Mental Health Advisory Committee. "Last year our student newspaper, The Monitor, devoted three issues to the topic of mental health. This kind of curriculum integration adds depth to the much needed dialogue around emotional well-being."
There is a strong body of evidence that links the health of students to their ability to learn. The NCHA survey shows that one in three Ohlone students report stress was a major impediment to their academic success in ways such as receiving lower grades on exams or deciding to drop a class. There is still much work to do. In an effort to contribute to the Student Success Initiative from the Community College Chancellor, the Student Health Center is disseminating these important findings to key audiences, including Ohlone College student government, faculty and administrators.
The STEP Up Ohlone Program, funded by a federal grant, works to strengthen the college's infrastructure to create a safe space where students feel supported and socially connected. A goal of STEP Up Ohlone is to reduce the stigma around mental health and promote help-seeking behavior.