Sara Abelson, a health behavior and health education Ph.D. candidate in the U-M School of Public Health, received the George Orley Student Mental Health Advocate Award at the 2021 Depression on College Campuses Conference, hosted by U-M on March 9 and 10.
From the conference program:
Sara Abelson is a nationally recognized expert who has dedicated herself to improving student mental health at Michigan and beyond. Sara’s research focuses on student mental health, with a particular emphasis on equity. Her advisor, Daniel Eisenberg, describes her as a “stellar scholar with a genuine passion for improving how colleges and universities support the development and well-being of college students” and as someone who “has made important contributions to college health through advocacy, education, and research.” Sara is a member of the Rackham Graduate School’s Task Force on Student Mental Health, leading last year’s working group on Rackham-level changes and this year’s public safety and policing working group, which only exists thanks to her advocacy! She played an integral role in writing and shaping the task force report, including the recommendations, all of which have been accepted. Sara has contributed to U-M inclusion efforts through many channels including leadership with the Network for Doctoral Diversity.
As a graduate student, Sara has positively impacted student mental health nationally through producing resources for college administrators, such as a Higher Education Today article on centering equity in student mental health task forces (their fifth most read article in 2020). She’s advised and helped lead student mental health initiatives with the American Council on Education, Great Lakes Colleges Association, Steve Fund, National Center for Institutional Diversity, Bringing Theory to Practice, American Cancer Society, and President of the University of Minnesota. She’s facilitated collecting important new data on student mental health as Lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Projects for the Healthy Minds Network.