In May, we observe Mental Health Month. Since 1949, Mental Health America (MHA) and organizations across the globe have spread awareness about the importance in keeping up with your mental health and making it a priority along with other health conditions.
Mental Health is a tough, but critical area to address at your institution as the deterioration of a student, faculty, or staff member’s mental health can lead to reduced performance and, in some cases, grave consequences. Here are a few statistics on mental health within the United States:
- 25% of students have a diagnosable illness.
- 40% of students don’t seek help.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college and university students.
- 75% of mental health conditions begin before or by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, this couldn’t come at a more important time to increase awareness within our higher education communities to the importance of managing your mental health and creating positive environments to work and study remotely.
COVID-19's Role in Mental Health
Most colleges and universities closed their campuses and moved to a remote learning and work environment within a matter of days – leaving little to no time for students, faculty, and staff to adjust to this new way of life.
With the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 alone, community members are also managing the new adjustments to their daily routines and some unanswered questions about what will happen next, which can negatively affect one’s mental health.
And, although, increased stress and anxiety surrounding this is expected, how can we best support students, faculty, and staff for the time-being or until measures are in place for community members to return back to campus?
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and what the future holds for higher education, but there are strategies and best practices that administrators can implement now that can help community members prioritize their mental health and continue to work and learn remotely:
- Keep Students, Faculty, and Staff Up-To-Date and/or Provide Real-time COVID-19 Updates – Consistent and authoritative messaging surrounding your institution’s plan to address COVID-19 can keep community members informed and reduce the stress of the unknown.
- Promote Free, Available Mental Health Resources to Students, Faculty, and Staff Through Social Media or Email Communication – There are a lot of COVID-19 resources available, which can be overwhelming. Use your institution’s platforms to provide valuable, free resources to community members, so they can use them remotely! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Provide Additional Support to Students, Faculty, and Staff as They Move to Remote Environments – Moving to a remote working or learning environment can be challenging especially for those who aren’t as comfortable with technology, so it’s important to make sure additional tech resources are available for those who may need it.
Above all, remember that this can be a stressful and anxiety-ridden time for all and adjusting to this “new normal” will take time.
Additional Mental Health Tips Outside COVID-19
Mental Health organizations, such as MHA and NAMI, are pushing for a focus on early adoption of awareness programs or resources. And, what better way to do so, then spreading awareness throughout your community. Here are five tips to keep in mind with your awareness efforts:
- Provide and promote your wellness resources for your students, faculty, and staff – remind community members regularly throughout the year that these resources are available.
- Promote open and honest conversations.
- Help reduce the stigma of mental illness.
- Educate your students, faculty, and staff on student mental health and the warning signs of mental illness.
- Increase the number of specially trained staff to combat mental illness.
If you're interested in learning more about Mental Health, make sure to check out our comprehensive Mental Wellness Guide, which examines some of the most prevalent mental illnesses on campuses, discusses risk factors, shares statistics on mental health in higher education, and shares strategies on how one can create a positive environment!
If you or someone you know are suffering from a mental illness crisis, please seek help immediately. Please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 911.
Preview Our Mental Health Program(s)
SafeColleges Training has a variety of employee and student mental health-related courses that help institutions raise awareness, identify risk factors and warning signs, and provide strategies to users on how to create positive environments.