New Student ID Cards to Include Mental Health

By Kelly Kennedy, Senior Writer

Manhattan College administration will be administering new student ID cards with mental health crisis hotlines printed on the back as part of a new initiative to promote wellness resources. The idea was brought to administration by two student athletes, Teddy Segmuller and Kaya Simpson.

Ronald Gray, vice president of student life, spoke about the duties of administration and the MC community to look out for the mental health of the students. 

“Having access to these resources is critical,” Gray said. “We know that one out of every two students struggles with mental health, depression, anxiety, and we know that is coming out of COVID and out of the responsibilities that have increased for students over the number of years.”

The updated cards will begin rolling out this semester with the updates to the Hayden Hall ID system and continuing into fall 2023.

This new initiative is a collective effort from many across the school, particularly the Wellness and Flourishing Council and the Student Athlete Advisory Council. 

Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel, dean of students and co-chair of the Wellness and Flourishing Council, spoke about the origins of the initiative and the reason for the hotlines. 

 “We wanted to institutionalize how people got resources,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “They [the students] wanted three numbers on the back of the ID. When everything got discussed and unpacked, it’s pretty clear that we needed to go a little broader than just the suicide hotline. So we got the sexual assault awareness number on there, as well as 911, 7333 and the general public safety number as well.” 

By having these mental health and crisis hotlines on the back of every student ID card, students will have access to help and resources anywhere, at any time.

Jennifer McArdle, director of the counseling center and co-chair of the Wellness and Flourishing Council, spoke about the initiative students are taking in order to promote the wellbeing of those around them. 

“I think it’s just tremendous that the students are disseminating a lot of this very important information,” McArdle said. “So it’s really at the fingertips for our students. Because sometimes that’s what makes the difference for somebody in crisis- right here, right now.”

Segmuller and Simpson came to administration last fall when the process began. They recognized the need for mental health resources to be readily available to students and wanted to find a way to bring it to the campus community.

“When they approached me with the idea I was immediately thrilled with it and Dr. Abreu reached out with all the resources to get the physical part of it done,” McArdle said. “I just think it’s a wonderful first step to continue providing these resources during a mental health pandemic.” 

On March 22, the first step of this initiative will be taking place, where bag tags and phone stickers with the crisis hotlines written on them will be given out to students. Students can also receive these items at school sporting events. Some of these items will also include a QR code, which takes students to a LinkTree that provides a multitude of mental health resources both on and off campus.

These new mental health initiatives will also be highlighting what resources students have available to them on campus.

“This is definitely something we’re committed to because when it comes to mental health, our campus is uniquely poised to address it,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “I’ll brag a little but we have a really excellent Counseling Center. So it’s a testament of their work, but also, it’s a testament of the way in which the institution supports their work.”

For students struggling with mental health, there are many resources on campus available to help, including the Counseling Center, the Health Center and the Lasallian Women and Gender Research Center (LWGRC) among others.

“That’s the critical thing, finding the right support for you is important and that’s something that we want to make sure that we prioritize for our students,” Gray said.

Many members of the Manhattan College community have gotten involved in this effort to support mental health, including the LWGRC, Student Government Association and the athletic department. Abreu-Hornbostel credits students such as Alixandria James, a wellbeing ambassador, and Emilia O’Neill, a LWGRC intern, for bringing up this concern and finding a way to help the MC community.

“When students have good ideas, we want to be able to support them,” said Abreu-Hornbostel. “Don’t be timid if you’ve got something that you think is worth sharing because the campus really does surround you and help you get the vision up and going.”