CCH hosts roundtable discussion on mental health with Rep. Joe Kennedy and mental health, education experts

CCH hosts roundtable discussion on mental health with Rep. Joe Kennedy and mental health, education experts

Rory Kelly, Editorial Contributor

Christie Campus Health hosted a roundtable discussion with Congressman Joe Kennedy, the current House representative for Massachusetts’ 4th District who is running for US Senate. The event, held on at the Harvard Club of Boston on February 18th, 2020, included a number of Massachusetts’ mental health and education experts including those in clinical services, public schools, community organizations and college and universities.  

Mental health and substance use are among Kennedy’s top policy priorities. The congressman and his team are working on a bill to improve mental healthcare; Massachusetts rates at the top of many health metrics, with 97% of Massachusetts residents insured.

Following an introduction from UMass President Marty Meehan, Kennedy briefly thanked everyone for coming, started a round of introductions, and then opened the floor to the experts after asking them what reforms out of Washington can help address the mental health crisis. Kennedy stated he wants to fix mental health the right way through a holistic, integrated public health approach to restructuring government and publicly-funded systems so that they effectively serve the behavioral health needs of Americans.

Kennedy-handshake-MB-(1).pngParticipants agreed that the current systems in place, whether they be public or private, are not sufficient to meet the unprecedented need. Topics of discussion ranged from the practical to the philosophical and included a number of issues including: the need for life skills training, lack of meaningful connection among young adults; institutional responsibility on the part of universities and colleges; the work force shortage in mental health across the board; lack of equity in terms of mental health resources access; complex and unique challenges some face at the intersection of diversity and inclusion, and mental health;  the overlap of young adults who struggle with homelessness, food insecurity, and mental health concerns 

Other topics included the importance of quantifying ROI on preventative measures, despite the challenges; adapting a public health approach to wellness; the JED Foundation’s partnerships with colleges and universities across the US, the Emotional Preparedness Construct; holistic prevention initiatives currently being implemented; and the need for scalable interventions and the potential of leveraging technology.

Attendees represented a number of higher ed institutions, including Babson College, Boston College, Boston University, Bunker Hill Community College, Emerson University, Harvard University, MIT, Suffolk University, Tufts University, and UMass Lowell. Other institutions and organizations represented included McLean Hospital, the Healthy Minds Network, Belmont Hill School, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM), the Home for Little Wanderers, and Needham High School.

We look forward to continuing this conversation and more as well collaborate to improve the mental health of young people and all of those in our communities.

Click here for event photos!

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