On Thursday, November 19, the Mary Christie Foundation (MCF) officially launched as a new think tank on health, wellness and readiness issues for young adults. The Foundation will provide thought leadership and philanthropy geared toward supporting young people in higher education, thereby strengthening and increasing the next generation of leaders.
“As thought leaders with knowledge, experiences and perspectives to share, we hope to shape the debate and contribute solutions to a host of challenges facing young adults today – from emotional and behavioral issues to aggression and bigotry on campus to the equitable attainment of higher education,” said John Sexton, President Emeritus at New York University and MCF Chairman of the Board of Directors. “By harnessing the knowledge and networks of multi-disciplinary experts towards the addressment of these issues, we can inform policymaking that leads to a broader, healthier, and better educated generation of leaders.”
The Foundation’s Council of Experts is made up of renowned academics, administrators and practitioners in health care, public health, higher education, and public policy who are charged with contributing – through publishing, researching, and speaking – to the issues within the Foundation’s policy frame. The Council will participate individually and collectively, sharing their varied expertise towards the illumination and resolution of a range of issues in health and higher education.
The Foundation, created in (DATE) as a philanthropic arm of a student health insurance company, has expanded to include thought leadership and policy analysis in response to the rising rate of emotional and behavioral issues. The Foundation is also embracing higher education issues that are barriers to successful completion of degrees such as financial stress, lack of preparedness and equitable access to colleges.
According to 2015 census data, millennials (those born after 1980) have
surpassed “baby boomers” as the largest living population. But relatively little public policy discourse is dedicated to the health and wellness of this demographic compared to their older and younger peers.
“From a public health perspective, young adults (18 to 26) are the ignored population, largely because they are presumed to be healthy,” said Robert Meenan, President of the Mary Christie Foundation and former Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health. “As a result of this, many of the issues that are unique to this age group often go unexamined and unresolved. A closer look at the health issues facing young adults, particularly those in college
settings, shows that “the kids are not alright” when it comes to a variety of
mental health and behavioral issues, social/emotional issues and unhealthy lifestyles.”
In 2014, college health centers saw an 8% increase in students seeking
mental health services over the last year. (LINK) Of college students who have been seen in college and university counseling centers, half have been in counseling, 1/3 have taken psychiatric medication, and 1 in 10 have been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons. (LINK)
Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for college students. The
annual report of Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that, of college students that have visited the counseling center on their campus, 25% have self-harmed, 1/3 have seriously considered suicide, and 10% have made a suicide attempt. Rates of self-injury and serious suicidal ideation appear to be increasing slowly.
While statistics vary, multiple studies have found that as many as 1 out of 5
have women on college campuses have experienced sexual assault.
The Foundation’s work includes the Mary Christie Quarterly, an E-magazine of ideas, data and reporting, and expert commentary on health and education issues; small and large-scale convenings of national and international experts in these fields; research partnerships and survey work that can contribute to policymaking; and philanthropy that supports emerging leaders and innovations in student health and wellness.