SpartanDO Expert Take 2023-05

May 2023

Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month

Dr. Jed Magen discusses mental health tips and resources for students and community members

If you or someone you know is thinking about ending their life, get help immediately. Go to the nearest emergency room or call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 for immediate support.



As the school year closes, some students may be beginning summer classes, preparing for rotations, starting summer jobs, moving home or staying on campus. No matter the circumstances, the entire Michigan State University community continues to process emotions from a semester stricken by a senseless mass shooting event, but defined by Spartan strength and resilience.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness, fight stigma and provide support for mental health issues. Jed Magen, D.O., M.S., associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry, was recognized as a Crain’s Detroit Business Notable Leader in Behavioral Health for his work on campus in the wake of the February shooting.

He partnered with colleagues Alyse Ley, D.O., Frank Straub, Ph.D., and clinic director Ruth Baer, D.O., to quickly deploy MSUCOM faculty and residents the morning after the attack to the Hannah Center, where the initial mental health response took place.

“With these sorts of events, we find immediate symptoms and we find longer term symptoms, particularly on anniversaries,” Dr. Magen said. “There’s a short-term response in the days and weeks after an incident, then a very important long-term response that spans years.”

"Relationships are really important to wellness. Humans are social animals and relationships buffer all kinds of problems."Throughout the rest of the semester, the team continued to deploy providers to requested sites around the community, schedule listening sessions and town halls, offer free walk-in clinics and advise faculty on how to talk about the tragedy with their students as classes resumed.

“You can’t isolate these things – they have systemic consequences,” said Dr. Magen.

Over the last few years, there has been more stress in both the student and general population related to COVID-19, social isolation, financial uncertainty and political stressors. “The level of anxiety and depression in the population is higher than it used to be, which can really inhibit a person’s ability to cope and to adapt to change,” said Dr. Magen.

He offers these tips for anyone experiencing mental health challenges:

Utilize mental health services and resources

Learn about the hotlines and telehealth/teletherapy options available – many are on campus or offer virtual options.

Be intentional about mindfulness

“We have a beautiful campus with all four seasons,” Dr. Magen said. “Take a walk along the river. Look at the trees. Smell the fresh air. That’s all part of mindfulness.”

Check out the wellness activities and events offered by CAPS, including guided nature walks, artmaking events, breathing exercises, poetry workshops and more.

Nurture human relationships

“Relationships are really important to wellness,” said Dr. Magen. “Humans are social animals and relationships buffer all kinds of problems.”

He encourages people to get out and do something with people you know, and if you do not know many people, do an activity that will help you meet people. If you have a job or internship over the summer, make it your goal to connect with people at work. If you don’t have work lined up, Dr. Magen suggests volunteering to get out of the house. The City of East Lansing offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. For students who are not in East Lansing, Dr. Magen suggests finding a soup kitchen or local organization that needs help.

“Collect experiences, pick up new hobbies and be open to diverse experiences,” Dr. Magen advises. “Best case scenario, you’ll meet people and gain a new experience. Worst case scenario, you won’t have a good time and you’ll grow from it.”

He also recommends keeping in touch with friends, both virtually and in person. One of the long-term keys to community health – on MSU’s campus and beyond – is supportive social connections, he said. “The feeling of community will help buffer stressors and keep people together.”

Set aside the drugs and alcohol

“People often use alcohol and drugs like marijuana to ease anxiety,” Dr. Magen said. “It may help temporarily but then the anxiety comes back, so you may want a more adaptive solution like mindfulness, building relationships or finding a therapist.”

For substance use services, visit the MSU Health Promotion AOD Program’s website.

Accept natural anxiety

“Humans are built to look at negative things more closely and remember them than we remember positive things,” Dr. Magen said. “We may overestimate the dangers of situations, but a little bit of anxiety is natural.”

Graduating from college, starting a career, moving home, beginning summer jobs and coming back to campus in the fall are natural times for students to have heightened anxiety. However, if anxiety begins to prevent you from doing what you want to do, Dr. Magen recommends seeking mental health resources or professional help.

About Crain’s Detroit Business’ Notable Leader in Behavioral Health

Crain’s Detroit Business recognizes notable leaders across many industries who were nominated by their peers and selected based on career accomplishments, track record of success and contributions to their industry and community.

Dr. Magen was nominated for being “a humanistic physician and leader for our university and mental health communities,” according to Andrea Amalfitano, Ph.D., D.O., dean of MSUCOM.

In addition to addressing mental health issues around the campus shooting, Dr. Magen works with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Michigan to promote treatment for individuals with mental health issues and is a member of the board of National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), the national organization providing licensing exams for osteopathic physicians. He is the first osteopathic physician to be president of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry (AACDP) and was the first osteopathic physician to be a member of the Residency Review Committee for Psychiatry, the body responsible for accrediting all psychiatry residencies in the United States.

“It’s a great recognition since there’s a lot of stigma around mental health and psychiatry,” Dr. Magen said. “It’s always exciting for the college, the psychiatry department and the entire osteopathic profession to have people highlighted for doing good things.”