This August, two major research reports focused on the need for mental health training on campus. One surveys college presidents, and the other surveys college students. What these reports have in common may surprise you.
What college presidents want
Mental health training on campus is a recurring theme in College Student Mental Health and Well-Being: A Survey of College Presidents, published in August by the American Council of Education. The report surveyed 400 college and university presidents on mental health:
• Compared to three years ago, 81 percent of presidents say student mental health on their campus has become more of a priority.
• Among presidents, virtually all (99 percent) said it is very important or moderately important for presidents to understand the issues related to college student mental health, but only 35 percent feel very knowledgeable.
• Only 30 percent of presidents said that yes, they have all the tools they need to address college student mental health concerns.
These responses represent a gap among mental health needs, current knowledge, and tools needed to close that gap. Digging deeper into what additional resources would be of value, the report cites that “over one-quarter of presidents said professional development and training for themselves or training directed at specific campus groups like faculty, staff, students, executive leaders, and board members” would be of value.
Additionally, 60 percent of presidents strongly agree that staff are spending more time addressing student mental health concerns compared to three years ago. And about half of that, 32 percent, strongly agree that faculty are spending more time. “We need training to be able to identify someone who may be experiencing a mental health episode or breakdown and strategies to assist that individual,” one president wrote.