Thirty percent of college students nationwide in 2011 reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function,” researchers have found. 

Depression affects student well-being and often academic performance. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that untreated depression carries a major risk for suicide. An estimated 1,088 college students nationwide die by suicide annually. Gonzaga is not immune to this tragedy. Over the last two academic years, two students have taken their lives.

“To me we are demonstrating cura personalis in action,” said Biggs Garbuio. “This is caring for people while getting to the root of our Jesuit, Catholic tradition. Some of it is physical care, and some of it is empowering students to take control over their lives.”

Gonzaga’s Division of Student Development is using a forward-thinking and collaborative approach to meeting students’ emotional, mental health and behavioral needs. Vice President of Student Development Judi Biggs Garbuio has announced a new leadership position. The dean of student well-being and healthy living will oversee student conduct, the new Center for Cura Personalis, and the Health Center and Counseling Center. Cura Personalis includes case managers for students in crisis; the Student Wellness Resource Center; O.U.R. House for those students in some type of recovery program; the Sexual Assault Response Team; and gender-based programming. “I talked with a lot of my peers across the nation before moving in this direction. This is a cutting-edge model that allows us to move our student judicial system from a punitive context into a context of caring.”

“To me we are demonstrating cura personalis in action,” Biggs Garbuio said. “This is caring for the whole person and getting to the root of our Jesuit, Catholic tradition. Some of it is physical care, and some of it is teaching students how to be empowered to take control over their lives.”

Biggs Garbuio also convened a Suicide Prevention Work Group last fall to assess current practices and make recommendations. New resources include additional hours of on-campus counseling, a staff psychiatrist, and training for students, faculty and staff in identifying those individuals who are at risk for suicide. Other elements of a comprehensive suicide prevention plan are under consideration.

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