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PRISMH: The President's Initiative for Student Mental Health

The need to address and support student mental health is critically important in a time when mental health conditions among college students are at alarming levels and on the rise.

President’s vision statement

The President’s Initiative for Student Mental Health (PRISMH), is a systemwide effort to bring together the services, programs, policies, and academic practices that showcase the University as a leader — not only in Minnesota, but in the nation — in understanding the ecosystem of mental health by using a public health approach grounded in data, practice, and research. 

PRISMH will centralize work already happening across the University and identify new areas of inquiry, research, and partnership. It will shine a light on the importance of mental health care in the broadest sense, work to de-stigmatize mental illness, and meet students where they are.

Overview of work/charge

There will be several functional and topical focus areas for PRISMH over the next 1-3 years. Each will have specific objectives and results that will drive the work. The PRISMH leadership will make recommendations, determine milestones, and report progress regularly.

The focus areas will include:

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Prevention/Upstream Efforts

Explore student training and prevention efforts happening across the system and make recommendations about the creation of an educational module. Additionally, explore and make a recommendation about K-12 partnerships to support mental health for elementary and secondary students.


Recommend structure, scope, and criteria to support student mental health research and curriculum.

Allyship and Early Detection

Assess opportunities for training faculty, staff, and students and make these opportunities more accessible systemwide. Partner with the Faculty Consultative Committee to understand classroom opportunities, such as course syllabi with a mental health-centered approach.

Services and Treatment

Make recommendations about how to mitigate service gaps and provide quality services that are culturally sensitive, technologically innovative,  and accessible. Explore non-clinical opportunities to triage and support students.


Develop and publish a comprehensive, systemwide student mental health campaign, provide updates to the University community, and serve as a liaison between University of Minnesota and community and non-profit partners.

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Top of Mind: Promoting Mental Health at the University of Minnesota

Top of Mind is a podcast series highlighting the issue of mental health at the University of Minnesota. Interviews with students, staff, and faculty address trends in student mental health and the programs and services offered to students.

Coping with the mental health crisis

The feature story Coping with the mental health crisis recaps the extraordinary challenges faced by our students this year, highlights our ongoing work through the President's Initiative for Student Mental Health (PRISMH), and identifies some of the many mental health resources available for students and others in our community.


MN State Summit 

In partnership with Minnesota State, the University of Minnesota hosted a statewide Mental Health Summit for higher education leaders and partners. The program schedule and speakers represented the depth and breadth of expertise across the state and were thoughtfully selected to share knowledge, foster discussion, and align priorities to support student mental health. View the robust conversation, the keynote address from Sara Abelson, MPH, and check out the resources offered by Carleton College, St. Cloud State University, University of Minnesota Duluth, and University of Minnesota Morris:

College Student Mental Health: National Trends COVID-19 Impacts, and Opportunities for Action

Fostering student wellbeing and resilience: Practice, programs, and initiatives

Mental Health Panel Discussion 

During President Gabel's inauguration week activities, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and the University of Minnesota co-presented a panel on  "Student Mental Health from the Lens of Prevention and Resilience." The panel featured experts and U of M faculty and students and was moderated by Stephanie Curtis, Senior Producer of The Thread, MPR.

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College Student Mental Health: National Trends, COVID-19 Impacts, and Opportunities for Action

View Recording

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The University of Minnesota provides a variety of mental health resources across its five campus system.

PRISMH Task Force Progress

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Task Force Members


  • Tabitha Grier-Reed, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist
    Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Faculty Development
    Morse-Alumni Distinguished University Teaching Professor
    College of Education and Human Development
  • Maggie Towle
    Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs 

Task Force members


  • Cari Michaels, Extension Professor, Extension Center for Family Development, Twin Cities
  • Angie Mejia, Assistant Professor, Center for Learning Innovation, Rochester
  • Houng Nguyen, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Twin Cities
  • Nadezhda Sotirova, Associate Professor, Morris
  • Lindsey Weiler, Associate Professor, Department of Family Social Science, Twin Cities
  • Marco Yzer, Professor, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Twin Cities


  • Jake Atencio - Undergraduate, Rochester
  • Samiat Ajibola, Undergraduate, Twin Cities
  • Sophie Magro, Graduate, Twin Cities
  • Roun Said, Graduate, Twin Cities
  • Marvin So, Professional, Twin Cities
  • Kaitlyn Swinney, Graduate, Twin Cities


  • Veronica Gaidelis-Langer, Clinical Social Worker, Duluth
  • Kacey Gregerson, Senior Academic Advisor, Twin Cities
  • Vesna Hampel-Kozar, Director, Student Counseling Services, Twin Cities
  • Chiara Mesia Doig, Social Worker, Boynton Mental Health Clinic, Twin Cities


  • Beth Lingren Clark, Associate Vice Provost, Twin Cities
  • Savala DeVoge, Dean of Student Engagement, Crookston
  • Erin Keyes, Assistant Dean, Law School, Twin Cities
  • Paul Shepherd, Minnesota State, System Director for Student Development and Success

Staff to the Task Force

  • Megan Sweet, Assistant to the President, Office of the President
  • Heather McGinnis, Assistant to the Vice President and Dean of Students, Office for Student Affairs
  • Christie Wells, Internal Communications Director, University Relations

Subject Matter Experts

Administration Group

  • Lisa Erwin, Vice Chancellor of Student Life, Duluth
  • John Hoffman, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Crookston
  • Sandy Olson-Loy, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Morris
  • Calvin Phillips, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students,Twin Cities

Allyship and Early Detection Group

  • Leif Anderson, Undergraduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Christine Danner, Assistant Professor, Medical School,Twin Cities
  • Betsy Ferwerda, Assistant Librarian, Crookston
  • Sara Johnson, Assistant Dean for Student and Resident Affairs, School of Dentistry, Twin Cities
  • Fiyyaz Karim, Lecturer, College of Continuing and Professional Studies, Twin Cities
  • Douglas Kennedy, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Twin Cities
  • Kely MacPhail, Academic Technologist, Center for Spirituality & Healing, Twin Cities
  • Jordanna Midthun, Graduate Student, Twin Cities 
  • Brittin Wagner, Researcher, School of Public Health, Twin Cities
  • Sue Wick, Professor Emerita, College of Biological Sciences, Twin Cities
  • Chenwei Yan, Undergraduate Student, Twin Cities

Prevention and Upstream Group

  • Ellen Adams, Assistant Professor, Medical School, Twin Cities
  • Hodan Hachi, Graduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Emma Hamlin, Undergraduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Sarah Hilger, Academic Advisor, College of Science and Engineering, Twin Cities
  • Lisa Lemler, RecWell Manager, Twin Cities
  • Jennifer McCleary, Associate Professor, College of Education and Human Service Professions, Duluth
  • John Romano, Emeritus Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Twin Cities
  • Maura Shramko, Researcher, College of Education and Human Development, Twin Cities
  • Vince Vallera, Assistant Professor, Medical School, Twin Cities

Research Group

  • Clayton Cook, Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Twin Cities
  • Heather Cornelius, Graduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Robert Dunbar, Associate Professor, Center for Learning Innovation, Rochester
  • Emily Jordan Jensen, Lecturer, College of Continuing and Professional Studies, Twin Cities
  • Kaz Nelson, Assistant Professor, Medical School, Twin Cities 
  • Soumya Sen, Associate Professor, Carlson School of Management, Twin Cities
  • Deb Wingert, Education Program Specialist, Center for Educational Innovation, Twin Cities 

Services and Treatment Group

  • Safa Ali, Undergraduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Tammy Berberi, Associate Professor, Humanities Department, Morris
  • Stacy Crawford, Director of Academic Advising, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Duluth
  • Matt Hanson, Interim Director, Boynton Mental Health Clinic, Twin Cities
  • Michael Kim, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Medical School,Twin Cities 
  • Ayan Mohamed, Graduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Coralie Pederson, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Boynton Health, Twin Cities
  • Emily Schneider, Undergraduate Student, Crookston
  • Scott Slattery, Director of Learner Development, Medical School, Twin Cities 
  • Jasmine Snow, Undergraduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Anna Stalsberg, Undergraduate Student, Twin Cities
  • Alexis Zanghi, Graduate Student, Twin Cities

Task Force Updates

The task force held a kick-off retreat in August, which grounded their work in public health models of mental health, led by task force members Lindsey Weiler and Cari Michaels, and PRISMH subject matter expert Clay Cook. These models will guide the work over the 2021-22 academic year. 

View the presentation