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Supporting the Mental Health and Wellness of Chemical Engineering Students at the Department and College Levels

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Perceptions, Reflections, Collaborations, and Student Support in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Andrew Maxson The Ohio State University

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Andrew Maxson is an assistant professor of practice in chemical engineering at The Ohio State University where he teaches Chemical Engineering Unit Operations. He earned his B.S. in chemical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and his M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Ohio State. Having worked as a manufacturing process engineer for ten years, his focus is on optimizing the process of teaching, as well as hands-on, practical engineering concepts relevant to chemical engineers entering industry.

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David L. Tomasko The Ohio State University

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David Tomasko is a Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University. He also serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Services for the College of Engineering

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Concerns about the mental health and wellness of college students have been growing, and many believe the nation is now faced with a mental health crisis. Suicide rates and the number of students seeking help have both increased in recent years. Universities have been scrambling to respond to the increased demand for mental health resources, and many educators have found themselves at a loss about what to do to help students who approach them with mental health concerns.

At The Ohio State University, several mental health and wellness initiatives are underway within the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) and the College of Engineering. A 2018 survey of CBE undergraduate students revealed alarming rates of self-reported mental health issues. In response, a CBE Wellness Committee of faculty and staff members was created. The committee's goals are to 1) increase student/faculty and student/student interaction, 2) foster open discussion about mental health to help destigmatize mental illness, 3) inform students about the mental health resources available to them, 4) raise awareness among faculty members about the types of pressures and difficulties their students may be facing, and 5) train students to be continually aware of the mental health and wellness of themselves and others. In support of these goals, several different types of wellness events are held during the academic year (approximately 10 events per semester), information about on- and off-campus mental health resources has been posted throughout the building, and faculty members are working together on exam scheduling to avoid overloading students.

At the college level, a Mental Health Round Table has been created where faculty members and students from all departments come together with college administrators to discuss how they are creating cultures of caring within their departments. Round table meetings also provide a forum where educators and students can learn from and give feedback to representatives from university resources such as Counseling and Consultation Services and the Suicide and Mental Health Task Force. The round table meets twice per semester.

Maxson, A., & Tomasko, D. L. (2020, June), Supporting the Mental Health and Wellness of Chemical Engineering Students at the Department and College Levels Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35257

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