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Senate opens dialogue on student mental health

| Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Student Senate gathered Wednesday evening to discuss the state of mental health on campus and the quality of University programs for mental health.

Notre Dame recently received a donation of $10 million to provide for student mental health care and is looking to revamp programs to make them more accessible to students. Student body president Lauren Vidal and vice president Matt Devine have an upcoming meeting with the board of trustees concerning mental health.

“We are excited that they are engaging us in this conversation, and we are excited to present our research and plan of action to them,” Vidal said.

Vidal presented research on students’ mental health and stress.

“As far as the national trend goes, Notre Dame students seem to have similar stress levels and are also provided with similar resources to manage stress as students at other top-tier universities,” Vidal said.

Devine summarized a study from the American College Health Association, which showed that 89.7 percent of students nationwide reported experiencing average to “tremendous” levels of stress daily.

Vidal summarized the results of a student survey that the Student Senate conducted, and the majority of students surveyed reported their stress level is regularly a 7 out of 10.

“We have noted in our research that students and members of the University as a whole tend to regard stress as a characteristic part of student life,” Devine said. “Whether or not this is taken for granted is what we want to find out.”

To provide a faculty perspective, Vidal and Devine spoke with two esteemed professors at Notre Dame: professor of chemistry Xavier Creary and professor of business Carl Ackermann.

“While talking to Dr. Creary, he strongly emphasized the three aspects of student life – social, academic and sleep – saying that the paradigm is that you can’t do it all,” Vidal said.

Ackermann said he has noticed that more students are runners than ever before, Vidal said. Ackermann attributes this to the desire to increase efficiency because running burns more calories than other possibly more enjoyable activities.

Senate also voted to appoint Abbey Dankoff as The Shirt project president. Dankoff is a junior who has been involved in the making of The Shirt for the past two years.

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