AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin was named a winner of the inaugural 2015 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, which recognizes the university as one of the healthiest campuses in the nation. The award celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that are prioritizing health and demonstrating innovation and excellence in promoting student well being.
“Our campus is leading some of the nation’s most innovative programs to create a healthy college community,” said President Gregory L. Fenves. “We are a model for universities nationwide, demonstrating what is possible when students, staff and faculty from across the campus work together so that every student thrives.”
Active Minds is a national nonprofit group with 400 campus chapters that advocates for young adult mental health. The goal of Active Minds is to create an environment that fosters open dialogue about mental health by increasing awareness, providing information and resources, and encouraging help-seeking behavior.
UT Austin was recognized for its cohesive, innovative public health approach to student physical and mental health and wellness. Active Minds and a national panel of expert reviewers conducted a comprehensive, multistage application process. The university’s healthy campus coalition, UT Wellness Network, submitted the application on behalf of the university.
“We rigorously assessed the university across eight criteria, all key to creating a healthy campus community. That included championing student voices, creating equal opportunities for health for all students and using data to drive and improve efforts,” said Sara Abelson, vice president of student health and wellness at Active Minds, which will share the university’s best practices with higher education institutions nationwide to inspire locally driven change.
“I'm proud that the university is being recognized for its commitment to health and wellness. With a wide range of policies, a culture and physical environment that supports health and world-class programs, services and facilities, UT Austin does a superb job taking care of students,” said Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky.
Some of The University of Texas at Austin’s innovative efforts include:
- Initiating the university-wide “BeVocal” initiative, through which students are trained and empowered to recognize potentially harmful situations and intervene.
- Partnering with The University of Texas System Board of Regents to expand programs initiated at UT Austin to all University of Texas System schools. This includes after-hours, system-wide crisis intervention hotline and bystander intervention training, alcohol abuse prevention programs and centers for students in recovery.
- Placing mental health counselors in six academic units.
- Helping make healthy food options easy and affordable through modification of vending machine policies, planting teaching gardens adjacent to residence halls, establishing healthy meeting guidelines, and collaborating with local restaurants to address price barriers to healthy food for student organizations.
- Working with the Texas Legislature to pass a law requiring Texas public universities to give information on mental health and suicide prevention during orientation.
- Maintaining a tobacco-free campus and offering programmatic support to reinforce this policy.
- Offering 500,000 square feet of indoor and 40 acres of outdoor recreational space and using innovative technology to support and encourage physical activity.
- Vaccinating more than 10,000 students, faculty members and staffers annually across campus through a large, coordinated flu shot campaign.
The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award is a new annual recognition, made possible through support from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation. For more information visit www.ActiveMinds.org/Award.