According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation-CNN poll, 90 percent of Americans believe that our country is undergoing a mental health crisis. This crisis is particularly profound among young people. Roughly a third of young adults (ages 18-29) describe their mental health as “only fair” or “poor” compared to 19 percent of adults over thirty. Fifty-two percent of young adults also report feeling anxious “often” or “always,” whereas only 28 percent of adults over thirty report similar levels of anxiety. Overall, a little more than one in three young people say a mental health condition has made them “unable to work or engage in other activities.”
Phi Delta Theta is not immune to these mental health trends. Our undergraduate members also struggle with anxiety, depression, and substance use. We respond to several deaths by suicide each academic year, and many of our undergraduate leaders have asked General Headquarters for additional resources to address these issues.
As part of this work, the General Council approved the formation of a Mental Health Taskforce which will seek to do the following:
- Assess the mental health challenges our undergraduate members face and develop curriculum and resources to equip them better to be the healthiest versions of themselves.
- Create procedures and protocols that can be utilized by General Headquarters staff and volunteers during a crisis (e.g., death by suicide, hazing incident, mass shooting, etc.)
- Develop a comprehensive mental health framework that staff and volunteers can use when assisting undergraduate members.
The task force is composed of religious leaders, mental health professionals, and university administrators. The chaplain for the General Fraternity will organize the committee. Senior Vice President of Member Development and Support Jesse Moyer will serve as our staff liaison. In the coming weeks, we will introduce each task force member and share their immense qualifications.
To begin, the task force has designed a short survey to inform our work and assess the greatest needs of our members. This survey will be unveiled during January’s McKenzie Family Presidents Leadership Conference, and newly-branded Phi Delta Theta items will be given to the chapters with the highest survey completion rate. Stay tuned for more details.
The task force will also host listening sessions at the McKenzie Family Presidents Leadership Conference. These sessions will allow chapter presidents to describe their members’ greatest challenges regarding mental health and share how they hope General Headquarters staff and volunteers can help address these issues.
We may be facing a mental health crisis, but the spirit of our Fraternity is one of resilience. We will continue to do the hard work of being our brother’s keeper, working to ensure that all of our members have the support systems they need to thrive in college and beyond.
To our undergraduate members, we hear you, see you, and acknowledge that we need to do more to equip and empower you to lead lives of success and significance.
The work begins now.