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JED Campus Initiative at UH

What does it mean to be a JED Campus?

JED campus is a nationwide initiative of The Jed Foundation (JED) which guides colleges and universities through a 4-year, collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program, and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention efforts. JED will help the University of Houston take a systematic and evidence-based review of how we can improve the emotional health and wellbeing of our students and decrease suicides. JED Campus signifies that we are putting systems, programs, and policies in place to create a culture of Cougars caring for each other that builds an emotional safety net for our students’ mental health.

JED Campus Year 2 Kickoff Event

This Spring we gathered all JED members and UH campus stakeholders to kicked off the second year of implementing the strategic plan.

JED Campus Initiative Summer '23 Update

Over the last 3-4 months, 35+ UH students, faculty & staff volunteered their energy, time and knowledge to the JED Campus Initiative. We accomplished so much in the 1st of this 4 year initiative. Together we finalized You Can Help a Coog Training for the UH community to recognize, respond and refer students to mental health support. We expanded knowledge of peer support programs on campus and look forward to the October 2nd launch of Togetherall, a 24/7 peer-to-peer mental health chat support.

JED workgroup members also contributed to Pres. Khator's aggressive internal marketing campaign, identified life skills programming to build students’ confidence outside of the classroom, and clarified the process of getting University support to a student who is in distress. This impressive group will continue to address the strategic plan over the next 4 years and welcomes members of the UH community to join.

JED Campus is Looking for Student Representation

Students interested in being a part of the JED Campus Initiative please complete the form. If you have questions, please email Dr. Marti at

JED Campus JED Working Groups

Consistent with The Jed Foundation’s recommendations, working groups were formed for areas of action, led by members of the JED Steering Committee and including faculty, students and professional staff from the University. If you are intested in being joining a JED work group, please complete the form.

Click the work group below to learn more.

Ensure that substance abuse policies and protocols best support students.
  • Mr. Reuben Parrish (Lead), Dr. Anthony Franklin, John Shiflet, Alyssa Veteo, additional members from the already formed UH Substance Abuse Committee
  • Priority: Developing and having the university adopt into MAPP a Medical Amnesty Policy
  • Achieved: MAPP policy adopted! Next steps are to walk through the policy implementation before publishing. Student involvement needed. Established a Harm Reduction Support Group.

Teach students the skills necessary to cope with the stresses of college life, make wise lifestyle choices and be academically successful.

  • Christie Penzien (Lead), Kim Clark, Ja'Nelle King, Monica Thompson, Matt Oltremari
  • Priority: Inventory and evaluate programs that teach self-advocacy skills
  • Achieved: Completed round 1 of JED Campus Skills Inventory. Expressed need for general 101 how to college at UH course to help with freshman experience. Follow up with Chelsea Price regarding Core 1101 from office of the Provost.

Implement and assess sustainable programs that offer students the opportunity to build connections with others in their community.

  • Jen Vardeman, Ph.D. (Lead), SGA rep, Kevin Nguyen, Hope Pacheco, Emily Schwass
  • Priorities: Inventory and evaluate peer mentoring programs, Develop or enhance programs and activities to promote inclusion of disconnected/isolated students on campus
  • Achieved: Developed a database of UH peer mentor and ambassador programs. Next step is to make the database searchable and publicize on CoogsCare and other webpages.

Services: Ensure access to all necessary clinical care services, and enhance systems, protocols and processes in order to coordinate necessary care for students.

  • Dr. Monica Lackups-Fuentes (Lead), Dr. Bradley Smith, Kolin Justice, Rania Elkhatib, Dr. Austin De La Cruz
  • Priority: Expand mental health services for UH students. Increase from 4% to 8%
  • Achieved: Added services Togetherall (online peer support network) and Welltrack Boost (self-help therapy tools)

Help campus community members to identify, reach out to, and refer students who may be struggling.

  • Dr. Monica Lackups-Fuentes (Lead), Dr. Leslie Coward, Heidi Kennedy, Michael Crook, Dr. Toshio Asai, Dr. Austin De La Cruz, Dr. Jon Rusciano
  • Priority: Campus Response Guide to support students aka a Red Folder/Faculty Toolkit (per Khator's email) which is distributed to all faculty and front-line staff each semester outlining steps to support students and resources
  • Achieved: Outline of content for the folder. Next step- execute final designs and productions of Tool Kits

Promote help-seeking behavior through destigmatization efforts and increased access to resource information.

  • Karen Jubert (Lead), Brittani Clarkson, Andres Acosta, Lori Selzer, Holly Alexander
  • Priority: Develop, expand, or strengthen mental health training program for relevant campus faculty and staff in identifying, reaching out to, and referring students who may be struggling
  • Achieved: First final draft of the You Can Help a Coog Training. Next step is to review feedback after Fall implementation (delivered by CAPS on Tuesdays)

Reinforce adequate and appropriate institutional response to student deaths or other emergencies, Strengthen established protocols for the reporting of, and follow-up to, emergency situations, and minimize environmental risks for suicide.

  • Dr. Norma Ngo (Lead), UH PD representative, James Wright, Marcus Hicks, facilities member, upper administration member
  • Priorities: Conduct an annual campus environmental scan to identify and mitigate access to lethal means, Develop or refine postvention protocol to be consistent with the HEMHA guide
  • Achieved: Review and Summary of the HEMHA guide. Next step is to meet with post-vention stakeholders to review and align current process with JED recommendations.

Ensure that emotional well-being is a campus-wide responsibility. Advocate for policy and resource support.

  • AVP Chris Dawe (Lead), Celina Sandoval, Ms. Germaine Washington, Dr. Melissa Pierson, Jennifer Bloom, Dr. Norma Ngo, Susan Moreno
  • Priorities: Ensure the campus community is aware of the JED Campus strategic plan and the work of the task force, Offer a tuition insurance policy
  • Achieved: Collaboration with University Marketing and Communications department to implement an internal mental health campaign, centering COOGS Care webpage.


The JED approach

The JED comprehensive approach is designed to effect enduring, systemic change across our campus community. It focuses on these 7 areas:

Supporting life skills education is valuable in teaching healthy ways to cope with the stress of college life. Some of the life skills that are important to a student’s well-being include managing friendships and relationships, problem solving, decision making, identifying and managing emotions, healthy living, and finding life purpose, meaning and identity.

Research has shown that loneliness and isolation are significant risk factors for mental health problems and/or suicidal behavior. Therefore, supportive social relationships and feeling connected to campus, family and friends are protective factors that can help lower risk.

It is important to take action to identify students at risk for mental health problems and/or suicidal behavior, and also to promote emotional health awareness among those who interact with students the most — “gatekeepers” such as residence hall staff, academic advisors, faculty and even fellow students — as it is vital for these people to be able to recognize and refer a student who might be in distress.

Many students who need help may be reluctant or unsure of how to seek it out. Obstacles to help-seeking include lack of awareness of mental health services, skepticism about the effectiveness of treatment, prejudices associated with mental illness, and uncertainty about costs or insurance coverage. Campuses should engage in a variety of activities designed to increase the likelihood that a student in need will seek help.

It has been well established that if the means to self-harm are removed or limited in an environment, it can prevent suicide and even limit accidental deaths. This is called “means reduction.” Limiting students’ access to weapons, poisonous chemicals and rooftops, windows or other high places are all means reduction activities. Each campus should do an environmental scan for potential access to lethal or dangerous means.

The campus should have access to a well-publicized 24/7 crisis phone and/or chat line either through campus resources or local/national services. There should be a process in place to share information (as legally appropriate) between local ERs and school health and/or counseling services.

It is essential to offer accessible, consistent and high-quality mental health services to students. To make mental health and substance abuse care more comprehensive, it should include strong and flexible services, adequate staffing levels and staff diversity reflective of the student population, flexibility in treatment approaches, and clinic hours that are reflective of student schedules. Since most college clinics are free, the length of treatment is often limited. Therefore, it is important that campus mental health services can assist students in finding off-campus resources that can provide long-term care if needed.

Suicide Prevention Training: QPR

QPR, which stands for "Question, Persuade, Refer", is a nationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to educate persons to recognize and respond to the signs of suicidal thinking or behavior. Research has shown that persons who ultimately attempt suicide often provide numerous direct or indirect clues as to their intentions, and the goal of this training is to recognize these verbal, behavioral, or situational clues and take steps to get the person professional help. The presentation helps persons learn how to ask the suicide question, how to persuade the person to contact appropriate assistance, and how to identify referral options. Once trained, these persons act as gatekeepers for the campus community, informed and ready to intervene on behalf of individuals considering suicide.