Best Practices to Support Mental Health on Campus

Best Practices to Support Mental Health on Campus

May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month for over 70 years by Mental Health America (MHA). MHA uses this month to educate the country on mental health through media outlets, events, health assessments, and much more.

Last May, we focused on how institutions can best support mental health initiatives in a remote setting and the impact of COVID-19 on community members’ mental health. In this article, we will be sharing how colleges and universities can best support mental health initiatives in 2021 as well as share what fellow institutions are doing nation-wide.

In the last decade, suicidal thoughts, extreme depression, and self-injury among college students have more than doubled in the United States. Continued stress can damage a person’s mental state. Here are a few statistics to better understand the role of mental health in higher education:

  • Over 57% of students have experienced overwhelming anxiety in the past year.
  • Almost 40% of US students deal with some type of mental illness.
  • 64% of young adults, no longer in college, dropped out because of a mental health related reason.
  • 1 out of 2 college students confess to having suicidal thoughts.
Mental Health Awareness Month

COVID-19's Impact on Mental Health

Over the course of the last year, COVID-19 has negatively impacted people’s mental health regardless of age. From April to September 2020, 70% of people who had symptoms of anxiety or depression, reported that one of the top three contributors to their mental health was loneliness or isolation – a situation brought upon by public health measures to prevent the spread of the virus. And, even before the pandemic, mental illness among adults and the youth had been increasing. With the additional stress that many faculty, staff, and students face today due to COVID-19, it’s even more critical to provide mental health education and resources to all members at your institution. 

Best Practices to Support Mental Health on Campus

Many institutions are supporting student mental health by implementing effective initiatives on campus that encourage faculty, staff, and students to better assess their mental health, promote available resources on campus, and how to seek out help. We have provided a few of our favorite practices below:

  • Promote and share available resources your institution provides through social media or email communications on a regular basis. It is essential that community members are aware of supportive resources provided by your institution.
  • Provide a website or app that faculty, staff, and students can access 24/7, which allows members to contact campus officials, reach resources provided by the institution, or share concerns about a colleague or student.
  • Educate faculty, staff, and students through online mental health education that focuses on key stressors, how to identify mental illness, how to create a positive environment, what to do if they or someone they know is suffering from a mental illness or crisis, and more.
  • Encourage faculty, staff, and students to check in with their mental health the same way they would with their physical health, by taking free health assessments.

It is important to focus on mental health throughout the entire academic year and not only during Mental Health Awareness Month to better understand how your current efforts are impacting faculty, staff, and students as well as where you can improve.

Wooden singpost with "help, support, advice, guidance" arrows against blue sky.

If you're interested in learning more about Mental Health, make sure to check out our comprehensive Mental Wellness Guide, which examines some of the most prevalent mental illnesses on campuses, discusses risk factors, shares statistics on mental health in higher education, and shares strategies on how one can create a positive environment!

If you or someone you know are suffering from a mental illness crisis, please seek help immediately. Please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 911.

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Vector Solutions has a variety of employee and student mental health-related courses that help institutions raise awareness, identify risk factors and warning signs, and provide strategies to users on how to create positive environments.

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