The University of South Carolina is the only college or university in South Carolina - and only one of seven in the nation - to win the Active Minds Healthy Campus Award. Recognizing the healthiest college campuses in the U.S., the award celebrates institutions that demonstrate excellence in prioritizing and promoting the health and well-being of their students.
“At the University of South Carolina, we care about creating a culture of wellness where students, faculty and staff are able to live, learn, work and play,” said Harris Pastides, UofSC president. "This is only possible when the individual, environment and the community unite to create a culture and atmosphere that encourages healthy behaviors.”
Students enrolled at schools that focus on campus health often find that the programs and services offered there are life-changing. Terry Doan, a senior public health major, benefited from the university’s counseling services after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
“It is essentially through working with this service and meeting my counselor, now turned mentor, that I was able to continue at UofSC, and thrive,” said Terry. “I honestly believe that utilizing UofSC’s counseling saved my life. The experience has made me more resilient, more self-confident and given me the necessary skills to take care of myself in times of duress.”
The Healthy Campus Award, now in its third year, involves an extensive application process as well as multiple endorsements and interviews. Each applicant is assessed across eight criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of prominent researchers and health and higher education experts.
“University of South Carolina stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” said Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds, the national nonprofit that presents the Healthy Campus Award as part of its commitment to student wellness. “UofSC is a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a holistic approach to student success through a campus culture of health, resiliency and well-being.”
UofSC joins six other colleges and universities in receiving the Healthy Campus Award: University of South Florida, Arizona State University, Duke University, Jefferson Community College, Kent State University and University of Oregon.
This year’s recipients represent a range of campuses – from rural community colleges to major research universities – that operate within widely different contexts and challenges. Together they demonstrate how institutions of all types and sizes can create healthy communities that allow every student the opportunity to thrive and succeed.
UofSC enrolls roughly 34,000 students in courses within 324 unique degree programs. Of the student population, approximately 62 percent are residents of South Carolina, and an estimated 4.5 percent are international students. The state of South Carolina falls within the top 10 unhealthiest states for overall health, while 88 percent of UofSC’s students consider their personal health to be good or better.
The well-being of all students is a priority for the university and it shows. The review panel for the Healthy Campus Award cited the following innovative practices in particular:
● Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH): As an accredited PCMH, Student Health Services uses a dedicated care-team model that promotes the patient/provider relationship, as well as the continuity, comprehensiveness, quality and accessibility of care. Services have broadened to include expanded hours, online services, and use of the PHQ-9 screening in the medical clinics for students who may be in the pre-contemplative or contemplative stages of seeking mental health services.
● Student Leadership Activism: UofSC’s Student Government established initiatives including Gamecock Pantry and Carolina Closet to support students of limited resources, Stigma-Free UofSC week to promote seeking mental health help and Gamecock REACH, a peer listening program to support mental and emotional well-being.
● Resources for Marginalized Populations Students partnered with the Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support to develop initiatives, resources, organizations and programs for underrepresented populations, including Blackspace, Student Veteran Association, Gamecock Recovery, Trans Student Alliance and the regional Student Leadership and Diversity Conference.
● Policy and Systems Change: The campus’ Mental Health Council has successfully advocated for a centralized academic withdrawal policy to aid students needing to withdraw for physical and mental health reasons. They have collaborated on postvention procedures for campus tragedies and will soon conduct an environmental scan to reduce lethal means on campus.
The Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of Peg’s Foundation.
To sign up for the 2018 Healthy Campus Webinar on May 24 to learn more about the winners’ efforts to improve health and wellness, click here.
About the Healthy Campus Award
The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award recognizes higher education institutions that provide access to quality healthcare and take a comprehensive approach to promoting and protecting both the physical and mental health of students. The award criteria align with best practice frameworks in the field, and the esteemed panel of reviewers includes representatives from Active Minds, American College Health Association, Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, Bringing Theory to Practice, Healthy Minds Network, McLean Hospital’s College Mental Health Program, NASPA, NIRSA, National Campus Leadership Council, National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities, National Institutes of Mental Health, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and The Steve Fund.
About Active Minds
Active Minds is the nation’s premier nonprofit for supporting the mental health awareness and education for students. Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds is empowering a new generation to change the conversation about mental health.
Active Minds is dedicated to saving lives and to building stronger families and communities. Our signature programs include the Send Silence Packing® exhibit, the Active Minds Speakers Bureau, the Healthy Campus Award, and a vibrant network of campus chapters located at more than 450 colleges, universities and high schools nationwide.