How Faculty and Department Leaders Can Address Their Students’ Mental Health
Students today are facing major, compounding challenges as they traverse their degree programs toward an uncertain tomorrow. Not only do they have to learn how to navigate life as new adults and manage competing deadlines without the level of support offered throughout high school, but they also must think about major global issues, including climate change, and stagnating wages combined with rising costs. This often leads to heightened stress and anxiety. In the 2020–2021 academic year, almost a third of students linked challenges with their emotional and mental well- being to a longstanding decline in their academic performance (Eisenberg et al., 2021).
There are a few things that colleges and universities can do to help alleviate the burden students face every day, including restructuring mental health support on campus, providing options for digital learning, encouraging teachers to apply trauma-informed teaching practices, and connecting students with the resources they need to thrive. Advocating for and implementing practices and policies like culturally relevant teaching, community-based approaches to therapy, mandatory campus-wide training in crisis intervention, and reducing police involvement in mental health crises are impactful first steps. Most importantly, the people who work with and for students should listen to the students and not assume they know what the students’ needs are more than the students themselves. While substantially addressing these issues along with the failings of higher education will require time and resources, the return on investment cannot be understated. Students’ well-being, futures, and even lives are at stake, and they deserve better.Download Report