3 no-cost ways to support mental health on campus

Mental illness is on the rise in schools,and the need to address mental health on campus is more pressing than ever. As mental-health advocates fight to remove the stigma associated with mental illness, more clinical diagnoses are made. Twenty-five years ago, anxiety and depression were two illnesses barely discussed and rarely diagnosed. Now, they are flooding public school classrooms.

A survey conducted in February by the Pew Research Center found that 70 percent of teenagers identified mental health as a major issue among their peers—a number higher than bullying, drug addiction, or gangs. So with numbers that high, it should be assumed that public school funding would be prioritizing student mental health, but that’s not the case. In fact, too often, it’s our support staff who bears the weight of the financial crises facing public education.

I’ve spent 16 years as a teacher and educational leader. In that time, I’ve seen teaching go from a profession tasked with guiding children and young adults through academic curriculum to one of social and emotional teaching and learning. Twenty years ago, students were concerned with time management and quadratic equations; today they are overwhelmed by social media and stories of school violence.

Last month, the ALCU published an article called “Why School Psychologists Are Worried About the Mental Health of America’s Students.” In it, Angela Mann talks about school psychologists’ exhaustion and burnout due to high caseloads and understaffed schools. Data analysis from the U.S. Department of Education found a majority of public schools to be understaffed and unable to address the mental-health issues of its students.

The underfunding of mental health on campus

The underfunding of mental health in public schools is of concern. According to Mann, on average, school psychologists across the country have caseloads over 1,500 students on average; nearly half of schools report not even employing a school psychologist. Sadly too, Mann continues, the documented benefits of having mental-health personnel on staff is indisputable. School climate improves, discipline rates decrease, attendance increases, and graduation rates get much better too.

Unfortunately, the funding crisis shows no sign of letting up. In an August 2018 neaToday article, the authors identify funding as the first of 10 challenges faced by public education. In the decade since the Great Recession, many states are providing less funding to public education than they did before the crash. Schools are losing staff in droves. Districts, on average, spend approximately $11,000 per student every year, with the most economically disadvantaged school districts spending $1,200 less than that and districts with the highest number of students of color spending $2,000 less.

Related: 5 things to say to students suffering from anxiety

If public education cannot rely on the fiscal backing of state or federal government to prioritize student social and emotional learning, what are school districts expected to do?

3 cost-free ways to support mental health on campus

1. Allow private counselors to meet with students during the school day.

When funding decreases, districts often cut support staff to meet the newly established budgetary constraints. Such cuts lead to the untenable caseloads of school psychologists described above. For many students, academic success will continue to be unattainable as long as their mental health is neglected.

Private counselors could be an easy solution to this problem if education leaders would be willing to acknowledge the numerous benefits of making use of their services. Many private therapists cannot fill their schedules during the day. Clients with full-time jobs cannot meet during work hours and students can’t always miss class time for therapy.

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How to balance transparency and security in cybersecurity education

Every field of study has its challenges, and cybersecurity education faces a big one: how can educators can share detailed curricula around things like malware and cyberattacks without serving up a potential recipe book for those with ill intent?

Sensitive information shared with the wrong people in the classroom (physical or online) can fuel a malicious actor’s own educational learning curve. That’s obviously something to be avoided, but cybersecurity educators and their students still need to find a way to study concepts and use cases at the level of granularity sufficient for the real-world jobs they’re training for.

Related: Is your cybersecurity program on track?

Let’s take a closer look at how to strike the right balance in cybersecurity education.

Keeping black hats out of the classroom

The increasingly online and globally-connected nature of cybersecurity education is bringing more people to the field. That’s a good thing, but it requires a renewed focus on vetting curricula and understanding students’ interests and goals. The more we can do this, the more we guard against misuse of coursework by potential threat actors.

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Advancing quality and excellence in higher education

There is no shortage of challenges facing institutions of higher education. A cursory scan of higher education news outlets provides a snapshot of the financial, reputational, operational, and at times, existential issues on the minds of leaders in higher education. There is a growing recognition of the need for more dedicated professional development in the areas of leadership, change management, organizational performance, and innovation. The Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI) has been on the front lines of this pursuit for organizational excellence in higher education.

It began as a small group of like-minded higher education professionals focused on embracing total quality principles in colleges and universities across the United States. NCCI’s membership, mission and value has expanded over the past two decades. The association now has nearly 100 member institutions, ranging from smaller community colleges to large research 1 universities—all of whom share an interest in working collaboratively to employ innovative methods to advance academic and administrative excellence in higher education.

Related: 5 approaches will shape higher ed’s future–which will you follow?

In response to the dizzying and overwhelming set of issues facing colleges and universities, there exists the need for collaborative solutions that transcend institutional type, geographic location, traditional academic and administrative silos and roles, and primary mission areas.

NCCI continues to provide a relevant infrastructure for the collective exchange of strategies, tools, and best practices for enhancing organizational cultures to embrace quality, improvement, and innovation.

Ron Coley, one of NCCI’s founders and former vice chancellor for business and administrative services at the University of California Riverside, describes necessity as the catalyst for the creation of NCCI.

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How the university library can help students save money

The university library is a central hub connecting nearly every facet of a campus, and it is supported by students’ tuition. In the library, we asked ourselves what we could do to defray costs for students while also removing financial barriers to reading and learning.

The answer lay right at our fingertips, with the millions of pieces of content we buy or license for our library every year. We decided to partner across the university to help faculty assign students course materials from the library’s collections, and deliver them directly in their courses.

Related: What role will university libraries play in the future?

Today, the average tuition of a four-year college is $34,740 a year–a 168 percent jump in the last 20 years. There is now $1.5 trillion in collective outstanding student debt, eclipsing the amount Americans owe on their credit cards. The already-high price tag for college doesn’t take into account ancillary expenses like textbooks and course materials, which many students skip buying because they can’t afford them, even though they are concerned it will negatively impact their learning.

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The future of CAPS in higher education

Colleges and universities are attempting to bring science and practice together to address the mental health and well-being of college students. But they have a long way to go—the best practices that can help institutions deliver counseling and psychological services (CAPS) in higher education.

Making some headway, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) is a multidisciplinary, member-driven, Practice-Research-Network (PRN) focused on providing accurate and up-to-date information on the mental health of today’s college students. CCMH strives to connect practice, research, and technology to benefit students, mental health providers, administrators, researchers, and the public.

Related: Student wellbeing is more important than you think

The collaborative efforts of approximately 550 college and university counseling centers and supportive organizations have enabled CCMH to build one of the nation’s largest databases on college student mental health. CCMH actively develops clinical tools, reports, and research using this data.

We need best practices for CAPS in higher education

Unfortunately, best practices available to CAPS professionals are limited at best. While the CCMH network does indeed collect reams of data, it doesn’t do well providing best practices, and especially those that focus upon prevention.

College and university CAPS professionals will tell you that our students are not well emotionally, psychologically, and physically, and those most connected to their well-being—faculty and advisers—have not been given a way to address the problem in an integrated way. Students are entering colleges and universities with expanded well-being needs and more mental and physical challenges and illnesses. And these well-being needs have not been adequately measured, let alone addressed, by faculty, front-line advisers, or university leaders.

Happiness and success from the inside-out

Harvard psychologist Dr. Shawn Achor’s research demonstrated that only 25 percent of our success comes from the intellect. The remaining 75 percent is divided among optimism levels and social supports, and the ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat. “If we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change our realities” (Anchor, 2010). Further, only 10 percent of our external circumstances predict our future success, which means that 90 percent stems from the lens through which we see the world and create our realities, from the inside-out.

Related: 2 actions university leaders can take to impact student wellbeing

To build students’ abilities from the inside-out, there is an increased need for academic affairs and student affairs organizations to be combined into one seamless whole in order to be better able to serve student well-being needs.

An example of the integrated model in action is at The Ohio State University, through its Office of Student Life, which is implementing a framework that extends and integrates personal wellness into career services, academic advising, and student engagement, among some twenty additional university units and departments. The mission of student affairs and student life is “to create an extraordinary student experience,” clearly attempting to provide transformational opportunities from the inside-out. If colleges and universities follow Ohio State’s lead and provide these resources, students will use them, because it is in their self-interest to do so. They will have more of what they want from college—training for a success that will last a lifetime.

The “Integrated Success Model”

One approach that leaders of CAPS in higher education can implement is the “Integrated Student Success Model,” or iSuccess, which produces happy, healthy, thriving college students through practices that are integrated across university functional areas. The iSuccess model offers higher education a new lens with which to view students, representing a breakthrough prevention model and student well-being approach.

Three research-based, high-impact practices empower students to create their own pathways to success. The Integrated Self Model (iSelf) is a framework to help students develop self-awareness through self-system and positive psychology attributes. The Self Across the Curriculum (SAC) is a pedagogy to include the teaching of self-knowledge throughout the curriculum. And the Success Predictor (SP) is a student success assessment instrument and intervention tool. These practices are shared across career counseling, academic advising, CAPS, faculty teaching, and student engagement activities.

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Ensuring accessible content for all students

This summer, many faculty will work on developing or revising curricular content for their courses. One of the keys in developing new digital materials is verifying that those materials offer accessible content for all students.

Today, most learning management systems (LMS) and software programs offer some level of accessibility compliance checking. However, they are not always thorough or error-free.

Related: 4 myths about accessibility and online learning

For instance, some PowerPoint templates show less-than-ideal contrast between text and background colors. Many YouTube videos include closed captioning, but the automatic captioning often leaves something to be desired. Taking the time to review accessibility of materials makes sense to ensure all students can experience success instead of frustration.

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Learn how this university adopted a successful data-driven strategy for inclusive learning

Trying to effect change and scale the impact of a new technology on Grand Valley State University’s campus of nearly 25,000 students and 1,800 faculty demands a strategic, creative approach.

When it comes to accessibility of course content in Blackboard, detailed information about existing issues and progress can be hidden from view, often leading to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

Without accessibility information, designing and implementing effective strategies can be even more challenging. With Ally’s accessibility insights and usage reporting, GVSU can more effectively leverage data to both inform outreach efforts and to demonstrate impact to drive further adoption, creating a feedback loop that is both sustainable and scalable.

Learn more from this informative white paper. Read now.

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Moving from predictive to prescriptive AI

More and more universities are adopting predictive analytics and forecast modeling to improve their recruiting and retention efforts. But what’s the best way to use those analytics and how can you tell if your implementation is off to a good start?

eCN spoke with Jennifer Beyer, Vice President of CRM Product Management at Campus Management and former director of enrollment management at the University of South Florida Lakeland (USF), about how higher ed uses artificial intelligence (AI) in recruiting today and where it’s headed.

Related: How AI will shape the university of the future

eCN: It seems like AI is suddenly everywhere in higher ed. Is that your take as well?

Beyer: When I left USF in 2013, AI use was not widespread, but over the last two year there have been a lot of these ‘how to use AI to solve problems’ stories. We are now seeing very real examples of how AI is starting to make an impact and become accessible to more institutions.

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New digital tool targets mental health support on campus

A national survey across hundreds of college campuses does much to paint a picture of student mental health and mental health support on campus. Now, the researchers behind the Healthy Minds Network want to immediately put resources into the hands of students who take that survey.

With technical expertise from the University of Michigan (U-M) Office of Academic Innovation, the researchers have developed a digital tool called Sage, which provides education and support to students. It boosts mental health support on campus by allowing those who take the Healthy Minds Survey to receive tailored resources based on individual needs and preferences indicated through their responses.

To date, some 300,000 students nationwide have taken the mental health survey. A trial of the tool was offered to U-M students.

Related: Student wellbeing is transformative

Daniel Eisenberg of the U-M School of Public Health and the Institute of Social Research, and Sarah Ketchen Lipson, formerly of the U-M School of Public Health and now at the Boston University School of Public Health, say they want students to be aware of the support available for their daily lives, rather than only seek services when they are in a tough situation or crisis.

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What to know about higher-ed data breaches and vulnerable web apps

The recent Georgia Tech breach where 1.3 million students, student applicants, and current and former faculty and staff may have been compromised is believed to be one of the biggest higher-ed data breaches suffered by a university in the U.S.

The vulnerability found in Georgia Tech’s web application speaks to the risks of higher-ed data breaches–risks academic institutions and businesses face daily. Unsecured web applications provide easy access for hackers to gain entry into any business to conduct a variety of crimes.

Related: Don’t be complacent about data security

The three-month exposure window gave the intruder ample time to access critical details to leverage and sell on the Dark Web. This is a warning sign that nobody is impermeable and a sobering reminder to proactively strengthen application security.

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