New Initiative to Support Graduate Student Mental Health and Wellness
    August 20, 2019

    EMBARGOED UNTIL:                                                                                                                                        

    Tuesday, August 20, 2019 10:00am EDT


    CGS Contact: Katherine Hazelrigg – (202) 461-3888 /

    JED Contact: Meg Woodworth – (212) 303-2306 /


    Washington, D.C. — The Council of Graduate Schools, (CGS) an association of universities that grant master’s and doctoral degrees, and The Jed Foundation (JED), a non-profit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults, today announced a new initiative to support the mental health and wellness of master’s and doctoral students. The 22-month project will create a foundation for evidence-based policies and resources to support graduate student mental health and well-being, prevent psychological distress, and address barriers to effective support and care. CGS and JED will give particular attention to the experiences of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities pursuing graduate education.


    A growing body of evidence indicates that mental health challenges are common among graduate students. However, many barriers exist to effective support and care. These may include campus services that do not necessarily recognize the unique needs of graduate students, and a lack of evidence about what types of support are best suited to them. Students of different backgrounds may also face different sources of stress and may experience different levels of comfort in seeking help.


    The new initiative, Supporting Mental Health and Wellness of Graduate Students will address these and other concerns across all broad fields of graduate study. A grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will support the council’s focus on issues specific to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, while a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the council’s work in the humanities.


    “Compared with the undergraduate education context, there has been relatively little attention to supporting the mental health and wellness of master’s and doctoral students,” said CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega. “This is a high-priority issue for CGS and the graduate education community more broadly, and we are grateful to our funders for supporting our work on this issue in a coordinated, thoughtful way, and to JED for contributing their expertise.”


    The project will convene an advisory committee of experts and graduate education leaders (listed below), who will counsel CGS on its research and action plan. In addition, CGS will survey its member institutions to better understand existing policies and practices for supporting graduate student mental health and factors that may impact the design and delivery of services. In 2020, graduate deans, graduate students, mental health researchers, and other experts will convene in Washington, D.C., for a one-and-half-day workshop. The final project outcome will include a report and a statement of common principles for supporting graduate student mental health.


    “In our work with colleges and universities across the country, we hear time and again the increasing concern for graduate and professional students’ mental health and how best to support them," said Nance Roy, Chief Clinical Officer at The Jed Foundation.  “To date, there is no framework focused specifically on the unique challenges and needs of graduate students.  JED is excited to be part of this initiative that will not only identify those needs, but also provide recommended practices for addressing them.”


    The report resulting from the project will be released by December 2020.


    Advisory Committee:

    • Dr. Hollie Chessman, Research Fellow, Center for Policy Research and Strategy, American Council on Education
    • Dr. Jan Collins-Eaglin, Scientific Advisor, The Steve Fund
    • Dr. Michael Cunningham, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Research, Tulane University
    • Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, S.J. Axelrod Collegiate Professor in Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan
    • Dr. Andres Gil, Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Dean of the University Graduate School, Florida International University 
    • Ms. Susanna Harris, CEO Founder, PhD Balance and doctoral student in microbiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • Dr. Paula McClain, Dean of The Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Duke University
    • Dr. Suzanne Ortega (Ex-Officio), President, Council of Graduate Schools
    • Dr. Susan Porter, Dean and Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, University of British Columbia and President, Canadian Association for Graduate Studies
    • Dr. Sally Pratt, Vice Provost for Graduate Programs, University of Southern California
    • Dr. Nance Roy (Ex-Officio), Chief Clinical Officer, The Jed Foundation and Assistant Clinical Professor, Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry
    • Dr. Barry Schreier, Director of the University Counseling Service and Professor of Counseling Psychology, The University of Iowa
    • Dr. Tammi Vacha-Haase, Dean of the Graduate College, Boise State University and President-Elect, Western Association of Graduate Schools


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    About CGS
    The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.


    About The Jed Foundation (JED)
    JED is a national nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention programming and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and support to grow into healthy, thriving adults; and we’re encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health. Learn more at


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.