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College and University Presidents Say Mental Health Remains Top Priority

By James Larcus & Trip Starkey, 1/4/2022

What would you think if 113 CEOs at major corporations, when asked about the most pressing issues facing their organizations, overwhelmingly identified a single concern? How about if that same concern was continuously singled out as the top priority for months-long stretches? Further, what if that same concern affected every aspect of those organizations’ viability, directly impacting their short-term and long-term success? It’s hard to imagine that those in leadership positions would not work diligently to deal with that concern by implementing an infrastructure capable of addressing it at an organizational level.

According to the American Council on Education’s 2021 Fall Term Pulse Point Survey, distributed to college and university presidents, student mental health was the most frequently cited concern facing leadership in higher education. Alongside 73% of presidents endorsing student mental health as top priority, 63% of presidents noted spring enrollment numbers as a concern, and 57% endorsed faculty and staff mental health as an important issue. When thinking about the viability of higher ed institutions, research suggests that creating cultures that address the root mental health and well-being concerns directly correlates to institution-wide success.

At YOU at College, we provide leaders in higher education with actionable solutions to effectively address their needs. Below are three ways we help drive institutional success:

  1. Provide Customized Well-Being Supports for Students – If well-being is not one-size-fits-all, the programming and tools used to drive well-being success for students shouldn’t be either. In order for a student to feel like they are effectively supported, their unique needs must be prioritized. This is backed up by a fall survey of our campus network, which showed 75% of students saying that it was essential for a tool to relate to their unique identity prior to using it. If news feeds, playlists, and lives are curated to exactly who students are and what they want, their well-being tools must meet them with that same level of curation. Through scalable solutions like the YOU platform, which dynamically tailor content and resources based on endorsed areas of need, leaders in higher education can more effectively support their students with content relevant to their unique needs and identities.
  2. Provide Comprehensive Support for Faculty & Staff – Oftentimes faculty and staff are the first line of support in addressing student needs. Aside from the demand of supporting students, faculty and staff carry their own burdens that require their own unique systems of care. To help reduce feelings of burnout among faculty, and quell the desire to leave their jobs, it is imperative that institutions of higher education drive awareness of employee supports, while further building networks of care that are designed to meet the unique needs of higher ed professionals.
  3. Drive Feelings of Campus Connection – It’s no secret that COVID-19 impacted every aspect of our lives. For higher ed specifically, the pandemic saw a shift in how we think of campus life, an ability to create hybrid learning environments, and a drastic reassessment of the future of education. Within all of this change, however, feelings of connection to campus were diminished, leaving many feeling lost and out of place. To address concerns over retention and campus connection, higher ed leaders can bring students back into the fray by prioritizing campus support systems that serve as digital front doors to all things campus-related, whether they be in person or online. With the prioritization of digital tools, institutions now have an opportunity to develop campus cultures in both the physical and digital realms, which can help extend the idea of campus beyond what has been previously possible. 

As COVID-19 remains a concern as we start 2022, it is important for leadership in higher education to not only recognize the issues facing their institutions, but it is imperative that this recognition lead to a proactive approach to developing institution-wide infrastructures for future success. The crux of viability for every institution comes by embedding mental health and well-being support into the fabric of their communities, thus ensuring each student, faculty, and staff member that their needs are both heard and prioritized. 

For more information, check out the ACE Pulse Point Fall Survey and contact our team for more information. 

mental health
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