May 2024 video message

Hello colleagues and friends across the U-M community.

With another academic year behind us – and a summer full of sunshine ahead, it is an opportune moment to pause and reflect, to assess not only our achievements, but the state of our well-being.

The well-being of our staff, students and faculty is and remains one of my highest priorities as president of this university.

That’s why I was so pleased to see human health and well-being as one of the critical impact areas of the campus vision that we created together, and that we launched last month. In addition, we have established a Common Agenda for Well-being which will guide our work together in using policy and systems-level approaches to lead us toward becoming a health-promoting university.

It’s essential we do so.

For Generation Z is facing a wave of anxiety and depression disorders –and mental health challenges affect also many of our staff and faculty.

For that reason, we are joining across the university to honor May as Mental Health Awareness Month. In that spirit, our mental health team at Michigan Medicine has put together a range of ways to learn more, and become more engaged, including podcasts, webinars and livestreams, health-related articles, and in-person events in our local community. I encourage you to visit U-M’s Department of Psychiatry website for details.

The team is also collaborating with undergraduate design students at our STAMPS School. Under the mentorship of Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo, these students are contributing to the awareness of mental health topics by designing posters that counteract the stigma and silence around mental health conditions.

Guided by mental health experts from across the university, as well as their own passions as artists, these students are exploring the mental health topics most important to them, transforming their art into messages of awareness – and hope – that benefit our whole community.

Those efforts are in addition to the many resources we offer throughout the year to every member of our students, staff and faculty. For the well-being of each member of our community is absolutely essential to our success and achievement as a university. 

One of our leaders in this critical work of compassion, care and connection is Kelcey Stratton, our chief behavioral health strategist.

Kelcey Stratton Speaks

Thank you, President Ono. 

Communication, connection, and awareness are essential for our mental and emotional health.

Along with mental health professionals from Michigan Medicine, I was part of the unique project this semester with students at the STAMPS School of Art & Design.

Each student in a poster design class created a series of mental health awareness posters covering a wide variety of conditions such as anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and substance use. Some students decided to highlight unique experiences such as international student loneliness and others focused on the mental health of our student-athletes. 

We shared our work experiences as mental health professionals with the class. Students also heard real-life stories directly from people living with mental health challenges.

The artwork is incredibly creative, and each poster tells an important story. These posters will be made available to schools and colleges, units, and departments across the University of Michigan, allowing them to display these vitally important calls-to-action conceived by our very own students.

This collaboration is elevating the discussions around mental health and decreasing stigma on our campus. 

And it’s just one way that, together, we can normalize conversations about mental health and create more understanding and care.

Bringing more compassion into our community—that’s what inspires me in my work. 

Mental health matters for all of us, especially faculty and staff.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. So we are encouraging our faculty and staff to learn more about how they can support themselves and others with the message, “Let’s talk about mental health.” 

There is still a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health and we all need to talk about it openly and honestly. It affects us, our loved ones, our friends, and our colleagues. Open discussions help reduce stigma.

We can all support mental health.

At an Organizational level, systems approaches are foundational. For example, my team has been collaborating with partners across the university to develop a mental health strategic plan for faculty and staff aligned with our core values.

A workplace culture where people can flourish supports our Vision 2034 impact area of Human Health and Well-being, and aligns with Well-Being Collective Common Agenda.

Leaders and supervisors, you can support mental health by making time to get to know your team, and being as flexible and understanding as possible to support people in their life and work.

You can also request consultation and training on mental health topics to better support your teams, and you can learn more through classes offered by Organizational Learning.

As individuals, regularly reflecting on your own mental health can help you identify current needs and supports. Being intentional in caring for your overall health and making the time for what nourishes you. That can include exercise, eating healthy foods, adequate sleep, social connection — these all have a positive effect on your mood and can help you feel more restored.

Connecting with colleagues can support a community of belonging.

If you or someone you know needs extra support, we’re here for you. 

If you just need a break, check out the special events in May. 

You can check in with yourself by taking a confidential online mental health screening.

Or if you want to talk to somebody, U-M offers no-cost counseling for faculty and staff at every campus and Michigan Medicine

Whether it’s through the power of art, a caring conversation, or giving your team time to pause and rest, mental health deserves ongoing attention and care.

President Ono Resumes

So as we look toward the summertime, let us first look to one another. Let us care for one another and lift one another. And let us remember that each of us can give the gift of compassion, the gift of grace, the gift of light.

Thanks again and I’ll see you in June.

Download the STAMPS mental health posters.