MindHandHeart expected to improve access to resources

Mental Health and Counseling to offer additional walk-in hours, offer additional counseling in 8-316

In a letter sent to the MIT community Tuesday, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 and MIT Medical Director William Kettyle released a set of planned changes aimed at bolstering the Institute’s mental health resources. These changes come as a response to the results of the Healthy Minds Study, a mental health survey that was sent to all MIT undergraduate and graduate students last spring.

Foremost among these changes is the launch of the MindHandHeart Initiative. Barnhart called the initiative “MIT’s next step in our continuing process to address mental health issues” in an interview with The Tech.

According to the Chancellor, this initiative will fund innovative wellness ideas from the community and help coordinate current mental health services. Barnhart pointed to the Tell Me About Your Day bracelets handed out in the spring as an example of an idea or project that would have received funding. Students can apply online at, the official website of the MindHandHeart Initiative. The next application cycle closes on Sept. 30.

Chancellor Barnhart said that a committee of students, faculty, and staff will be responsible for selecting which ideas proposed by students will be funded by the initiative. Resources from across campus will be pulled together to provide the funding for these projects.

“The idea here is that we really do need to leverage what is probably our most valuable asset here, and that is our people and their great ideas,” Barnhart said.

Other announced changes include an increase in staffing for the MIT Mental Health and Counseling Service (MH&C) and Student Support Services (S3), as well as an additional MH&C location in 8-316. At the new location, students will have the opportunity to participate in 20 minute “Let’s Chat” drop-in consultations. These informal conversations will be kept confidential. A clinician will be available starting Sept. 22, and students may drop by anytime from 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

MH&C plans to launch an online portal this year for students to chat with trained peers about any of their concerns. To make it easier for students to schedule an appointment, MH&C will add an online appointment request form to the MIT Medical website on Sept. 10. This summer, 32 students were also trained as “Peer Ears” to increase MIT’s peer-to-peer support within residence halls.

In the wake of four suicides within the MIT community in the last year, MIT signed on to become a member of the Jed-Clinton Health Matters Campus Program. According to its website, this program helps “colleges and universities promote emotional wellbeing and mental health programming, reduce substance abuse, and prevent suicide among their students.”

“This specific initiative was driven by a myriad of things,” Barnhart said. “It is a continuation of our efforts on campus. That’s not to say that last semester wasn’t a really difficult one. One of the things we learned last semester is how many members of our community really want to help. In that way, it shaped the design of the initiative.”

As part of MIT’s four-year commitment to the program, the Institute administered the Healthy Minds Study. The survey yielded a total response rate of 28 percent. While 17 other universities participated in the study this year, Barnhart said that their names are kept confidential. However, she stated that MIT’s peer schools were included.

The Healthy Minds Study reported that the majority of MIT respondents (77 percent undergraduate, 65 percent graduate) agreed with the statement: “At my school, I feel that the academic environment has a negative impact on students’ mental and emotional well-being.” In contrast, only 36 percent of undergraduate students and 38 percent of graduate students nationally agreed with the statement. An MIT undergraduate student was also considerably more likely to list “I question how serious my needs are” as a barrier to seeking help (49 percent MIT, 34 percent national).

Among other findings, the survey reported that over half of MIT students (54 percent) regularly sleep for eight or more hours each night, while another 27 percent sleep for at least seven. It also found that only 38 percent of MIT students (graduate and undergraduate) exercise for three or more hours each week, whereas more than half of national respondents receive the same amount of exercise.

“What we’re trying to do with the MindHandHeart Initiative is to help students manage stress, manage time, manage MIT,” said Barnhart. “We are working to ensure that our support system is as strong as possible and that students have as positive of an experience at MIT as possible. I think our commitment to this and the general interest of faculty, students, staff — the full community — in working on this problem speaks to the nature of who we are.”

Freedom over 7 years ago

I feel sorry for MIT administrators. It's actually in their self interest to increase depression rates at MIT. That way, there is more demand for MIT administrators. Administrators actually need to increase the rate of depression to keep their jobs! (There is an analogy with feminism and the you-know-what crime.)

So schools across the country are changing into incentivizing "victim mindset," by rewarding students who pretend to be depressed. One downside for the students is this increases the actual depression rate (acting depressed makes you depressed, after all). And it also makes students unhireable in the private sector.

One solution to this downwards spiral is the social norm of not pretending to be depressed and not getting help for fake depression. Many students have this social norm (I've always had it; I will act happy even if I'm mildly depressed), but rational administrators and the weak leftist beta apparatchiks at The Tech will shame such virtuous behavior.

Another solution is ILGs with cultures of happiness. These will also be shamed by the university elites since the elites aim to increase jobs for depression counselors. Thus we see that frats are, of course, far less independent than they once were and in the process of being further eliminated.

In summary, depression is a lie. Just don't act depressed and don't believe the PhDs and the journos.

Freedom over 7 years ago

MIT administrators are like people on welfare. It's just a sad situation. Not everyone is going to make it.

MIT parent over 7 years ago

It seems the comments on a serious issue of mental health and providing mental health services that affects MIT and colleges everywhere only has attracted trolls. I'm looking for someone to come up with a hack that can weed out the trolls infesting comments in The Tech.

Freedom over 7 years ago

This is light trolling, MIT parent. Basically just common sense with light exaggeration. Give me some more stuff to work with.

Look at data. Look at surveys of people in graduate school. You see really high rates of depression, which is not surprising given what grad school entails. 64 percent in the humanities, source here:

Admins and doctors will tend to incentivize depression and make it worse since they may be out of work if they don't (who needs admins if nobody is depressed?). It's in effect their job to make students depressed while seeming like they're not making students depressed. I don't hate administrators, I mostly feel sorry for them because that's their job. I wouldn't want to be an administrator.

At least their work is far more honest than the work of journalists (especially on TV). Better to be friends with an administrator than with a journalist at The Tech. Good, honest work gets you closer to freedom.

Freedom over 7 years ago

Here's the longer non-troll version of MIT parent (written on September 7th).

Notice that by trying to sanitize comment sections you contribute to depression. A lack of light stress will increase depression (depression is caused by being in an over-sanitized environment).

Freedom over 7 years ago

typo, "for" not "of"