Following the results of last year’s student health survey, Harvard University Health Services and the Office of BGLTQ Student Life have partnered to create a working group to address the mental health needs of BGLTQ students.
The group will be comprised of undergraduates who identify as BGLTQ, according to the application for students seeking to participate. HUHS and the Office of BGLTQ Student Life have tasked the group, which will meet three times over the next several weeks, with recommending initiatives to promote students’ mental health. The application closed on March 1, and the meetings are expected to begin before spring break.
“The purpose of this working group is to gain a deeper understanding of the data and to develop data-driven interventions to improve the emotional wellbeing of BGLTQ students,” the application reads.
Fourteen students — ranging from freshmen to seniors — responded to the Google Form application expressing their interest in participating in the group, according to Scarborough.
HUHS Director Paul J. Barreira and other HUHS administrators decided to form the group after reviewing data from the biannual undergraduate health survey, which showed that BGLTQ students were more likely to face mental health issues, according to Chief of Counseling and Mental Health Services Barbara Lewis.
“He [Barreira] had noticed that the BGLTQ community — it wasn’t surprising — was at higher risk. Maybe had needs that weren’t being met,” Lewis said.
HUHS then passed on the data to the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, where Director Sheehan D. Scarborough ’07 joined forces with Lewis and Barreira to create a student group that would review the survey data and design an intervention, Lewis said.
“We want students to come with ideas and make suggestions,” Lewis said. “I know that I have met with a couple of students who are actually interns with Sheehan, and I think they have had some great ideas, so we’re just trying to formalize that.”
Scarborough said he believes gathering student input is crucial, referencing productive conversations he has had with Office of BGLTQ Student Life interns.
“Our interns are amazing, they’re fantastic advocates,” Scarborough said. “So a lot of these conversations that I have been having have been informed by what I’ve been hearing from students and wanting to make sure that the concerns that they’re bringing up get the visibility that they deserve.”
Scarborough said that he is looking forward to collaborating with students directly in the working group.
“I'm most looking forward to partnering with students in thinking about their own experiences and how they can really inform those experiences to make them better — to improve them not only for themselves, but for the entire student body,” Scarborough said. “Students — you all have such innovative ideas about your experiences here on campus, and to be able to incorporate those directly into the services that are provided for mental health — that's exciting.”
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