Christie Campus Health Convenes a Panel of Experts at the 2023 NASPA Strategies Conference for a Session on Non-Counseling Interventions that Support Student Well-Being

Christie Campus Health Convenes a Panel of Experts at the 2023 NASPA Strategies Conference for a Session on Non-Counseling Interventions that Support Student Well-Being

Amaura Kemmerer, LICSW 
Executive Vice President of Client Engagement 

As a NASPA Educational Partner, Christie Campus Health was proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the NASPA Strategies Conference in Kansas City, MO last week. While there, Amaura Kemmerer, Christie’s EVP for Client Engagement, led a panel discussion titled “Beyond Counseling: Scalable Interventions to Support Student Well-Being.” Panelists were Diana Cusumano, LMHC, NCC, RYT (Director of JED Campus & Wellness Initiatives), Jason Kilmer, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine & Adjunct Associate Professor, Psychology, University of Washington), and John Stein (Associate Vice President for Student Life & Brandt-Fritz Dean of Students Chair, Georgia Institute of Technology).

Historically, students who experience challenges to their well-being, such as stress, sleep concerns, or relationship problems, as well as those with more serious mental health challenges, have presented to campus counseling centers for care. However, there is a spectrum of need among students. Some students can receive sufficient well-being support via lower-intensity interventions like meditation practice, self-directed programs, or through brief interventions to help them reduce their substance use, while others need more intensive interventions like counseling, medication, or case management.

Referring all students regardless of their level of distress to counseling may not effectively meet students’ needs and creates access issues at the counseling center. Coupled with the concerning trend of rising mental health acuity and continued demand for counseling that is outpacing staffing, colleges are challenged to get creative and offer a broad array of support while maintaining access to counseling support for those who require it. Many colleges and universities are considering options that support all students, offer approachable entry points for students who may be reluctant to seek traditional mental health services, and provide interventions that appropriately meet or augment the clinical needs of students. Knowing that substance use strongly affects mental health, many institutions have begun investing in wellness and preventative programs, such as Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. Other colleges are exploring and incorporating community-based efforts that include faculty and staff.

Here were some of the key observations and strategies presented by the panelists:

  • National trends continue to highlight the increasing rates of mental health challenges among adolescents and young adults, as well as increasing rates of suicidal thinking among college students.
  • Emotional health and wellness efforts cannot reside on the shoulders of counseling center staff alone; there must be a community effort and collective responsibility from a variety of campus departments and stakeholders.
  • Holistic approaches to support student well-being are critical, including the consideration of policies that might be outdated and negatively affecting student mental health.
  • Many campuses have implemented programs for identifying and regulating emotions, mindfulness, and meditation, as well as programs to provide social connection for the campus community.
  • Research evidence demonstrates that Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) works. Despite research showing that substance use negatively effects academic performance, retention, and mental health, most students who meet criteria for an alcohol use disorder or cannabis use disorder do not seek clinical support (and may not even recognize a need for it).
  • However, students who meet criteria for an alcohol use disorder or cannabis use disorder do go to health centers, counseling centers, conduct offices, meetings with RAs, meetings with coaches or trainers, academic advising, wellness offices, etc., and these settings may provide an opportunity to formally or informally screen for substance use concerns, provide brief interventions, or point students in the direction of appropriate care.
  • While research has not yet established causation, there appears to be a relationship between depression, cannabis use and suicidal thinking. Screening for cannabis use in the health and/or counseling center can help identify students at high risk.
  • There are many reliable and valid substance use screening tools as well as successful evidence-based brief interventions for students.
  • Partnering with outside companies can supplement mental health and wellness services and reduce the strain on campus staff by reaching more students with a variety of modalities as well as eliminating licensure issues related to providing telehealth therapy across state lines.
  • Coalitions/task forces that include students, faculty and staff are important system level strategies to increase the visibility of student well-being.
  • Creating mental health and wellness guides/training opportunities for faculty and staff can better equip those on the front lines to have effective conversations with students about mental health and refer to resources.
  • Faculty are the eyes and ears of a campus; they are often in the best and most consistent position to identify students who are struggling. They can take advantage of this position by asking how students are doing or by offering a listening ear to provide a meaningful and helpful conversation for a student.
  • Every campus culture is different and so are the politics. Sometimes, faculty respond better to “discussions” about how they can support student mental health over “training” opportunities that clarify the role of faculty as listeners and supporters versus “counselors.”

With data continuing to show trends of worsening mental health among college students and challenges in creating sufficient access to counseling, institutions of higher education are turning to more preventative and holistic approaches to mental health and wellness. Christie Campus Health offers a multi-modal platform of support designed to meet students where they are in their varying mental health needs. Our complete continuum of care includes wellness, mindfulness, and resiliency programs alongside counseling and other mental health services. Christie’s 24/7 Clinical Support Line is also a resource for faculty and staff who may need in-the-moment consultation about a student of concern, which can support campus-wide efforts to engage faculty/staff in wellness efforts. Visit our website  for more information about Christie Campus Health and our suite of offerings for colleges and universities.

How common is procrastination in college students and how does it relate to mental health?

Discovering a far more unstructured lifestyle than they knew in high school, many students struggle with time management upon arriving at college. They might put off assignments, overestimating how much time remains before the deadline, only to find later they’ve fallen behind. They shrug off a last-minute submission or, worse, force an all-nighter, assuming that everyone procrastinates. And it’s true—almost everyone does, especially students. Yet the prevalence of procrastination on college campuses may be the reason the depth of the issue ends up flying under the radar.

Read More

MindWise Innovations and Christie Campus Health Announce a Partnership to Support Mental Health on College and University Campuses

Christie Campus Health, the leading provider of mental health and well-being support services to colleges and universities, and MindWise Innovations, an award-winning service of Riverside Community Care that provides evidence-based mental health and substance use services to schools, organizations, and mental health professionals, are proud to announce a partnership.

Read More

Supporting College Students During Spring Break

For some college students, years have passed since spring break took its recognizable form—one that can be marked by partying and binge drinking, at least according to modern media. In March 2020, when the onset of the pandemic first dispersed students from their campuses, the sun-soaked, friend-filled vacations many had arranged morphed into unnerving spells of isolation. Week-long plans to see the world turned to quarantine, without an end date in sight.

Read More