JED’s Comprehensive Approach is drawn primarily from the overall strategic direction of the United States Air Force (USAF) Suicide Prevention Program, a population-based strategy to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors for suicide (Knox et al., 2003). The JED Comprehensive Approach is also based on what is known about how to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors for mental health and suicide among adolescents, college students, and the general population; an understanding of the student mental health problems that campuses face; and existing recommended practices.
In 2017, JED built upon its Comprehensive Approach by developing the Equity in Mental Health Framework, in partnership with The Steve Fund, which provides ten recommendations and implementation strategies to help colleges and universities better support the mental health of students of color.
Two guiding principles form the foundation of JED Campus. First, support for emotional well-being and prevention of suicide and serious substance misuse must be seen as a campus-wide responsibility. No longer can these issues fall solely, or primarily, to the health and counseling centers. While those offices have an important role to play, it is the responsibility of everyone on campus to promote and protect the mental health of the student body.
Second, these efforts that promote emotional health, suicide prevention and substance misuse prevention must have support from leaders on campus. It is imperative that senior leadership, including the President and Board of Trustees, not only acknowledge the importance of supporting student mental health and well-being, but make this work a priority and shared value for the entire campus community.
These two underlying principles are the cornerstone of JED Campus and are essential to effect any type of enduring, systemic change. With this foundation in place, colleges and universities are best equipped to implement JED’s Comprehensive Approach.