Insurance Provider United Educators Offers Premium Credit To Schools Completing JED Mental Health Support Program
- By Kristal Kuykendall
United Educators, a member-owned insurance and risk management provider for K–12 schools and higher ed institutions, has partnered with suicide prevention nonprofit The Jed Foundation to offer a premium credit to schools that successfully complete a JED program that helps schools better support students’ mental health and well-being, according to a news release.
Eligible UE members can earn a credit on their institution’s insurance premium of 4% to 6% upon successful of one of JED’s three risk-management programs, which run 18 to 24 months and include an assessment of campus policies, procedures, programs, and systems to support student mental health and reduce substance abuse and suicides.
It is the first time UE has offered a premium credit to policyholders that implement a comprehensive approach to student mental health on their campuses, UE said.
The JED programs offered through the new partnership include two tailored to higher education institutions and the JED High School program for schools serving grades 9–12. It is a 24-month partnership starting with a “thorough assessment of a school or district’s current policies, programs, and systems to support student well-being as well as current student mental health needs,” said foundation President and COO Rebecca Benghiat. “Equipped with that knowledge and supported by a dedicated JED advisor, schools create and implement a strategic plan for improving mental health and preventing substance misuse and suicide.”
The strategic plans recommended by JED focus on the following seven elements considered as foundational to student well-being as outlined in “The Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in High Schools” by Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital’s College Mental Health Program, and JED advisors, Benghiat told THE Journal:
- Developing life skills
- Promoting social connectedness and positive school climate
- Increasing help-seeking behaviors
- Recognizing and responding to students at risk
- Promoting well-being and access to mental health services
- Implementing and following crisis management procedures
- Creating a safe school environment
“To equitably and effectively promote student mental health and reduce suicide risk, JED emphasizes attention to policies and practices that work for students with diverse identities in the school community,” Benghiat said. “At the end of the program, JED conducts another assessment to document the progress made and outline steps to maintain and build upon it.”
The cost to participate in the JED High School program is $25,000 for public and private, non-residential high schools. This fee includes all costs associated with the partnership, and scholarship funding is available, as well as assistance from JED in finding grant funds to cover the fee, Benghiat told THE Journal. She noted that the premium credit awarded after successful program completion may equal the cost of program participation, depending on the school or district’s policy.
Benghiat described a current JED High School participant that is seeing “great progress” after beginning the program in the 2021–22 school year. Tonasket High School, a rural school in Washington, completed their assessment of systems already in place and, within input from all school stakeholder groups, created a strategic plan “to protect mental health and reduce the risk of suicide and substance misuse,” she said. The implementation of the school’s strategic plan has begun and will continue this coming school year.
“They have focused students’ daily advisory periods on supporting student and staff mental health, addressed staff burnout by revamping the staff room to be wellness-focused and launching a passion project program in which staff share hobbies they love with other students and staff in informal class sessions, including cooking, fly fishing, and yoga,” Benghiat told THE Journal. “The staff has been really excited by the opportunity to share different parts of themselves and build community and connection in this new way. Upcoming plans include teachers attending a trauma-informed workshop to help them better support students and others who have experienced trauma, and Mental Health First Aid training for staff to learn how to identify and support anyone in distress.”
School leaders can learn more about JED programs at JedFoundation.org, or learn more about UE’s risk management premium credit options at the UE.org website.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].