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Leaders should seek out proactive opportunities to educate colleagues about their responsibility to provide effective, evidence-based programs and services to students ahead of a crisis. Taking action, developing evidence-based programs, and investing in these critical services requires leadership and perseverance. When looking to campus leaders to help champion behavioral health programs and services, consider the three Cs: collaboration, communication, and commitment.
|Michael N. Christakis, Ph.D.|
Collaboration: Many behavioral health champions are better than single champions. Particularly in times of limited resources – human, financial, and otherwise – it is increasingly important to identify, inform, and count as behavioral health allies senior leaders from across the institution.
Communication: Open, frequent, and thoughtful communication among campus leaders enhances campus support for behavioral health initiatives. Issues as central to student success as alcohol and other drug misuse, mental health concerns, and violence on campus should be a regular topic of discussion, and not just for professionals with explicit responsibility for student wellness.
Commitment: Advancing a proactive behavioral health agenda will benefit your campus, especially your students. Demonstrating an authentic interest and commitment to students’ health sends an important message to institutional colleagues, as well as students and their families. Collaborating and communicating across the institution with particular attention to such programs and services better position college leaders to both anticipate and address emerging issues.
By collaborating with colleagues from across the institution, communicating frequently in a way that stakeholders can understand, and enlisting the commitment of institutional allies from across campus, championing students’ behavioral health issues becomes a fundamental, unquestioned call to action for campuses and communities alike. The impact of our students health on their academic success should be, without question, everyone’s priority.
Michael N. Christakis, Ph.D., serves as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University at Albany, State University of New York. In this position, he manages the entire student affairs portfolio in collaboration with key university divisions such as academic affairs, development, athletics, the Alumni Association, and others. He serves as Regional Director for NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Region II, leading a region that includes New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and concurrently serves on NASPA’s Board of Directors. He is the immediate past national president of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, and serves as president of the Board of Directors for UAlbany’s University Auxiliary Services.