When students are faced with academic and life challenges, it can produce feelings of isolation and hopelessness that can in turn affect their performance in the classroom and disrupt their lives in unhealthy ways. To help address this issue at Tech, Dr. Lacy Hodges, Assistant Director for Academic Transition Programs (CAE), has introduced a curriculum “infusion” strategy for GT 1000/2000's curriculum.
When did you first hear about this new curriculum?
Last Fall, SGA reached out to my office regarding the possibility of integrating mental health resources into GT 1000. I spoke with Jackson Caruso and Haight Angell throughout last fall and spring to discuss strategies to incorporate mental health resources into the course. Currently, we don’t have a curriculum for mental health, per se; rather, we have worked with SGA and the Counseling Center to offer a mental health curriculum infusion for GT 1000 and GT 2000 classes. This curriculum infusion emphasizes mental health resources on campus and offers suggested methods of implementing mental health-based discussions in GT 1000 and 2000 courses. We hope to continue to work with both SGA and the Counseling Center to develop specific curricular activities that can be integrated in GT 1000 and GT 2000, and the curriculum infusion resource list is the first step in more intentionally addressing mental health and wellness in GT 1000.
What was CAE’s involvement in the process of developing and distributing it?
CAE oversees the GT 1000 and GT 2000 courses, including all curriculum for the classes. We worked closely with SGA and the GT Counseling Center to discuss strategies for including mental health resources in GT 1000 and 2000, based on the current course learning objectives, structure, and curriculum. Through conversations with the mental health professionals in the Counseling Center and SGA, we developed a resource for instructors who are interested in infusing mental health topics into their GT 1000 or GT 2000 classes. We also invited the Georgia Tech Counseling Center to facilitate workshops during our annual instructor training in June, which was attended by all current GT 1000 & 2000 instructors. During these workshops, professionals from the GT Counseling Center provided information, resources, and activities for infusing mental health resources into GT 1000 and 2000 classes. As we continue to assess and implement this initiative in GT 1000 and 2000, it’s imperative that our instructors are properly trained on best practices for addressing mental health and wellness in the first-year seminar, and are familiar with the resources available to our students both on and off campus.
What do you see as the benefit of being able to work with SGA and the Counseling Center on something like this?
Mental Health is one of the most important issues facing our campus community today. It is imperative that our students have access to mental health resources and also know where to find these resources if and when they are needed. By working with SGA and the Counseling Center on this initiative, we are helping to ensure that Georgia Tech students feel supported from the moment they start classes and are aware of the resources available to them. Through working with both the Counseling Center and SGA, we have had the opportunity to expand the impact of GT 1000 and 2000 on our students’ wellbeing and to foster a supportive environment for all of our incoming students.
How do you think using the curriculum in GT 1000 and GT 2000 will help better students’ academic experiences at Georgia Tech?
There are a number of ways this initiative can improve the academic experience for students at Tech, including stigma reduction for mental health issues, awareness about mental health issues and resources, fostering a supportive campus environment, and increasing students’ academic engagement. Surveys have demonstrated the majority of Georgia Tech students have felt depressed, isolated, and/or anxious while at Tech, with 70% of students reporting a negative impact of mental health difficulties on their academic performance. Mental health impacts every aspect of a student’s life—including their academic experience. If a student is struggling with a mental health concern or issue, this will impact their experiences at Tech. By introducing these resources into GT 1000 courses, we are helping to destigmatize mental health issues on our campus and to create an environment of inclusive support for all of our campus community.