News & Events

EDI subcommittee on the value of bolstering efforts in mental health and wellness

Photo of woman looking out window

The University of Washington Department of Biostatistics Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee has formed a new subcommittee which is working on developing resources for mental health and wellness to better support the needs of students.

The priority to support mental health and wellness was identified as a need for students through the department's 2023 climate survey.

Members of the subcommittee include Kevin Lin, Nina Galanter, Alejandro Hernandez, Miaolei Bao, and Yutong Jin.

Why is mental health and wellness important?

Members of the subcommittee share reflections on the importance of mental health and wellness.

“Improving access to mental health information and care is an important part of EDI work because identity-based marginalization negatively impacts mental health and makes it more difficult for people to access effective care. Grad school is known for being stressful and isolating, so it’s especially important for students to have access to mental health knowledge and support,” said Nina Galanter.

Alejandro Hernandez agrees. “Reaching out to mental health services has often felt daunting to me and I don’t consider myself someone who is most in need of them," said Hernandez.  "It is crucial that departments connect students to professionals and develop guides on searching for and maintaining services. In all its unique forms, health and wellness need to be accessible across each student demographic.”

Miaolei Bao highlights the international student experience, “Transitioning to a new environment like grad school can be overwhelming, especially for those moving to a new country. Access to mental health services can help people better navigate the journey and identify possible issues they would have neglected otherwise.”

Yutong Jin commented on the disconnect between resources and students.

“EDI's role is super important for getting the word out about mental health help at university," said Jin.  "Back in my undergrad days, I had no clue we had resources to help with stress and anxiety. Ended up dealing with it all by myself, which was rough. It's so important that everyone knows help is out there, especially when you're feeling swamped or if you're new to the whole uni scene. EDI can make sure no one has to go it alone.”

The committee’s winter quarter plans include:

  • Working with members of the UW School of Public Health EDI Committee to design resources through which students can find therapy, counseling, and medication management care, both within UW and outside of UW. UW offers a variety of mental health resources, including counseling, support groups, and psychiatric (e.g. prescribing medication) services. However, UW therapists offer only short-term support and care providers outside UW can be a valuable resource for counseling and other needs. Understanding the types of support available, finding providers, and figuring out payment can all be complicated and overwhelming, so the sub-committee will create several resources to help students navigate through the process.
  • Inviting UW counselors, therapists, or other professionals dedicated to various aspects of wellness to speak to Biostatistics students. These events will provide an opportunity for students to gain resources and skills they can use for mental health self-care and to seek out professional support. Another goal is to reduce stigma and self-blame around mental illness and seeking mental health care.

“When I reflect on my journey of mental health, I admit that I was quite lucky," said Kevin Lin.

"One way or another, there was a friend, family, or mentor who I could discuss my troubles with whenever I had a major or minor crisis. The directions we are working on are immensely important to me since, in the ideal world, our students should not need to rely on luck to overcome their mental health issues and to flourish during their time in our department,” said Lin.

If you have ideas regarding the subcommittee approach or other suggestions for advancing the goals of the Biostatistics EDI Health and Wellness subcommittee in future quarters, please email Kevin Lin.