Equitable Implementation: JED’s Culturally Responsive Approach to Protecting Emotional Health and Preventing Suicide
July 13, 2021
The Jed Foundation (JED) protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. Using a comprehensive strategic planning framework, institutions participating in JED’s programs build and strengthen their systems, policies, programs, and practices to protect and promote emotional health and prevent suicide. The signature JED Campus and JED Campus Fundamentals programs for higher education and the JED High School program involve collecting feedback and data in real time throughout the collaborative strategic planning process to better understand a school’s unique culture, demographics, and relationship with the broader community. In order to help schools develop and implement strategic plans to support student mental health and reduce risks for suicide, JED uses the lens of equitable implementation to ensure that all young people are being served in data-informed and culturally responsive ways.
What is Equitable Implementation?
The programs and resources recommended through JED programs have been developed with an Equitable Implementation lens that ensures that the needs of students who are potentially marginalized and/or underserved due to societal and structural inequities and school-specific community demographics are considered deliberately and intentionally. Well-documented inequities place many students at incremental risk for emotional distress and suicidality. Populations of young adults may face different—and often additive—mental health stressors due to bias, racism and related microaggressions, financial disparities, and other social determinants of mental health. These contribute to higher-than-average and/or rising mental health challenges and suicide rates for people of color and LGBTQ+ young adults, among other groups.
Therefore, to promote student mental health equitably and effectively, and to reduce risk, schools must take care to learn about, understand, and plan for the needs of students whose mental health may be impacted by bias, racism, and marginalization. An ideal healthy campus community is one wherein every program, initiative, campaign, message, and strategic plan related to mental health is inclusive and equitable, and is designed to include and serve? diverse voices.
Each school participating in JED programs assesses, prioritizes, plans, and implements a customized approach to strengthen their unique school community’s comprehensive mental health promotion, substance misuse prevention, and suicide risk reduction efforts. Throughout their journey with JED, each school receives ongoing technical assistance from our staff and has access to our vast array of resources through our learning communities and online resources.
Why do we need Equitable Implementation?
JED’s rationale and approach to working with our school communities is to first recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to promoting positive mental health and preventing suicide is ineffective and culturally insensitive, and ignores the impact of systemic inequities and racial and bias related trauma on emotional health and well-being. We are dedicated to raising awareness and continuing to identify and reduce unique barriers to better support young people who are underrepresented and underserved. We are committed to helping schools strategically support young people based on data-informed and community sourced interventions and promising practices.
Who benefits from Equitable Implementation?
Every school community benefits from intentionally focusing on communities who may be more vulnerable to disparities due to systemic inequities that, if left unaddressed by those who hold the power to do so, will continue to be disadvantaged. Everyone benefits when approaches that are data-informed and culturally responsive are utilized. Inclusion begins with ensuring that all voices are heard and that schools work on solutions with and not just for communities that may be underserved. We believe that schools that plan with underserved populations in mind not only better support those students but also create a safety net for all students.