UMass President Marty Meehan Receives Youth Mental Health Advocacy Award

BOSTON — UMass President Marty Meehan was honored by the Massachusetts Assoc. for Mental Health (MAMH) for his deep commitment to mental-health advocacy and education among college students and for his leadership in creating pathways of opportunities for students of all backgrounds throughout his public-service career.

Meehan received MAMH’s Youth Mental Health Advocacy Award at the organization’s annual Friend and Leader Award Dinner on Sept. 19 at the Seaport Hotel Boston, honoring him and other distinguished leaders whose work contributes to progress in awareness, health promotion, prevention, and effective treatment for children and adults being impacted by mental-health challenges across Massachusetts.

The other 2022 recipients were Lauren Baker, first lady of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Friend and Leader Award winners Susan and Steve Pollock; Joseph Feaster Jr., an attorney and co-chair of the MBK Boston Advisory Council; and state Rep. Sean Garballey.

President Meehan was introduced by his stepdaughter, Caroline Hanson, a high-school student who has been active in mental-health advocacy and peer education and plans to study child psychology in college. He said he was accepting the award on behalf of the five UMass chancellors who are confronting these issues on the university’s Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Chan Medical School campuses, where more than 70,000 students attend.

“All of us are going to have to work together; we can’t rest on our laurels,” Meehan said. “We are making progress, but we have a long way to go … and I’m so proud of Caroline that she speaks out and talks about this issue. We all need to talk about it.”

Serving as UMass Lowell chancellor, his alma mater, and now as president of the five-campus UMass system, Meehan has emphasized the importance of college students’ emotional and behavioral health through his service on the Mary Christie Institute Presidents’ Council and his support of the work of organizations that focus on the success and well-being of young people, including the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell, and the BASE, a nonprofit group that utilizes baseball and other sports to help kids achieve success in life.

In his annual State of the University address in March, Meehan emphasized the university’s ongoing commitment to student mental health, asking those across the UMass system to “direct additional resources to student mental health, including expanding access to counseling and increasing well-being, mindfulness, and peer-support programming.” Meehan also made student mental health a priority in the university’s FY23 state budget request, resulting in $4 million of state support dedicated to student mental health.