WC: I don’t know that I would describe now as the best time. I don’t know that there was ever going to be a best time or worst time. I do think it is timely now. We have, and we do continue to experience, a lot of change in how our students experience mental health issues and how we try to keep up with the demand. There is a lot of attention across the public sphere about these issues, so it’s as good a time as any to have people’s interests come together to help us think through all of these things.
DTH: What does the task force plan to do?
WC: (The charge) really is to look comprehensively at mental health on this campus. That is 360 degrees of looking at mental health on this campus to evaluate what our needs are, to evaluate the evolving needs that we have, to do serious research on what’s out there, on who’s doing what so that we can figure out how we need to best either enhance, or otherwise change, what we’re currently doing. But to do that systematically and scientifically with everybody, hopefully, on the same page moving as a community to figure out the best way to do these things.
DTH: How were the members of the task force chosen?
WC: Some of it was thinking across who are the major, or what are the major, populations that we’re trying to serve and that we need input from. Some is because there have been, for example, groups or folks out there who have been engaged with this and who we either need or think we could benefit from expertise, some people are there because they have shown a strong interest in the area and have something to bring. I don’t believe there’s ever a way to have a committee that you can do anything with, that actually represents every single thing you would ever need or want to represent, but I think we tried very hard to think across the spectrum of these issues at Carolina and to include folks who bring either or both expertise and a strong interest and perspective on the issues to the table.
DTH: What impact do you hope the task force has on mental health care at UNC?
WC: I hope that it will result, and expect it to result, in real, concrete recommendations for things that we can do as part of this evolution to actually improve and make better and more efficient, and more effective, our ability to deal with mental health and wellness issues on campus. I’m hoping what we’ll see is a series of very specific recommendations about things the community can do or should do.
DTH: Is there anything else you would like to add?
WC: I think it’s important for everybody to understand that this is one: an extremely, extremely important issue for this campus, or frankly any campus, but it’s also a very complicated and at times difficult issue to get at, and it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to simple or quick answers. Because we really want to get this right, we’re going to bring the folks that we think we need, and we’re bringing folks together to work on this together as a group and as a team so that we really can come out of this with some ways in which we can make what is already a bunch of hard-working people and places even better.