College Presidents on Student Mental Health & Wellbeing: An American Council on Education Survey

College Presidents on Student Mental Health & Wellbeing: An American Council on Education Survey

Jennifer Melcher, Editorial Contributor

Mental health is a pressing issue for students on college campuses.  Students facing mental health problems may struggle to get appointments at colleges’ counseling centers, due to a number of factors including limited therapy sessions and too few student-centered options.  Students are voicing their frustrations and discontent through student newspapers and student-run mental health organizations.  But are these voices carrying all the way to the office of the president?  The answer, according to an American Council on Education (ACE) survey of college presidents, is YES.

Researchers Hollie Chessman and Morgan Taylor surveyed 410 presidents of public 4-year, private 4-year, or public 2-year institutions. The survey focused on college presidents’ awareness of student mental health issues on their campus as well as their plans to address these issues. The researchers found that when it comes to their students’ mental health, higher education leaders are most definitely aware and concerned. 

The most notable finding was that 81% of presidents indicate that student mental health has become more of a priority on their campus in the last three years, and 80% of schools have included student wellbeing and behavioral health objectives in their institutional strategic plans. Presidents are acting on these priorities, with 72% reporting that they have reallocated funds to better address student mental health.  With hypothetical access to unlimited funding, 58% of presidents would hire more counselors for their campus counseling centers, while 20% would fund different approaches such as technology-based solutions and partnerships with outside vendors.  Despite their motivation to respond, over half of college presidents reported needing additional tools and resources to address student mental health and wellbeing.

The ACE survey results reveal a high level of awareness among college and university presidents of the importance of student wellbeing and behavioral health, as well as a recognition that students need more institutional help to maintain their wellbeing and behavioral health. The results confirm that student voices on this issue are indeed being heard and that college presidents clearly recognize the impacts of wellbeing and behavioral health on student retention and academic success.

About Christie Campus Health

At Christie Campus Health, we are dedicated to improving the behavioral health and wellbeing of college students by helping colleges and universities expand the way they reach and support students in need.  Our Solution, CONNECT@College offers four integrated components that provide a student behavioral health safety net, as well as a broad range of options for students with varying behavioral health needs.

We believe today's students will respond well to increased options and entry points for assessment and support in ways that are comfortable and empowering for them. We believe counseling centers can be well served by partners that can assist them in appropriate areas, helping them to be more effective and efficient in their efforts. We take a public health approach to student behavioral health, focusing on the entire student population in our efforts to increase knowledge, reduce stigma, and address a full range of behavioral health care needs.

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