Campus & Community

Mental health task force announced

2 min read

Provost Steven Hyman and Dean of Harvard College Benedict Gross have announced a task force on mental health that will include clinicians, students, and faculty. The purpose of the task force is to develop a plan to increase education about, and decrease stigma around, mental and emotional problems as well as to provide an optimum environment both for detecting and treating these problems early on.

Information from a variety of sources, including student surveys and data collected from mental health service providers, indicates that the number of college students experiencing mental health problems has increased substantially over the past decade. The task force was created in part to respond to this recent trend.

The task force is charged with developing a plan for implementing the recommendations of the Provost’s Committee on Student Mental Health Services and the University Health Services (UHS) peer-review Patient Care Assessment Committee. Specifically, the plan will include improved outreach so as to encourage students to seek help without fear of being stigmatized; integrated and enhanced clinical treatment services under UHS; re-focused counseling and academic support services at the Bureau of Study Counsel; and expanded education of residential life staff.

The task force members are Paul Barreira, associate professor of psychiatry, McLean Hospital, task force chair; Georgene Herschbach, associate dean, Harvard College; Elizabeth Nathans, dean of freshmen; Jennifer Leaning, professor of international health, Harvard School of Public Health and chair, Student Health Coordinating Board; Lorraine Siggins, psychiatrist-in-chief, Yale University Health Services, Department of Mental Hygiene and chair, Harvard University Health Services Visiting Committee; Suzanne Renna, associate director, Bureau of Study Counsel; Chris Coley, chief of medicine, Harvard University Health Services; John O’Keefe, assistant dean for undergraduate education and secretary, Administrative Board; Jim O’Rourke, mental health clinician, Harvard University Health Services; Ryan Williams, director of Student Financial Services; Sarah Henrickson, student, Harvard Medical School; and three undergraduates, Elizabeth Quinn ’04, Caitlin Stork ’04, and Rohit Chopra ’04.

The group will meet regularly for the next three to four months and expects to complete its work by the end of April. The task force will present the completed plan to Provost Hyman and Dean Gross for implementation. If you would like to contact the committee, the e-mail address is