There is no shortage of discussion around the mental health challenges currently facing college students. According to a recent survey, 9 out of 10 college students have struggled with their mental health in some capacity during the pandemic. Additionally, when it comes to knowing where to turn for mental health support, nearly 3 out 4 of students endorsed some lack of confidence in knowing where to find help on campus. The challenge for higher ed leaders: how to close this gap and get students to the right level of care, at the right time.
In order to create cultures that truly support mental health, it is imperative that institutions build awareness around available services while also normalizing the need to reach out for help. In a six-month research process with several institutions, we learned that students cited the following as the primary reasons for not seeking support in times of need: not knowing where to turn, lack of knowledge of what services entail (i.e. what is confidential vs. private vs. not protected), and perceived stigma. While many institutions are investing in third party services to better support student’s mental health, many campuses lack clear strategies and tools to connect students to those services in a timely manner. Oftentimes, students either don’t know how to find proper help for the situation they’re facing; or, as noted in this Inside Higher Ed article, they receive conflicting information from their campus about where to turn and ultimately don’t receive help.
To address this issue in higher education, YOU at College partnered with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado Denver to reinvent campus crisis support through a brand new tool: FindHelpNow. Through our innovative, student-centered research and design process, our joint teams discovered that increasing access to mental health and other crisis services requires an intervention that can:
- Quickly clarify who could access what supports, when they were available, and how they could find them.
- Normalize the need and use of campus services
- Unite the campus in its mission to support student well-being
- Be 100% confidential and available for any community member whether student, faculty, or staff
With these insights, our team created FindHelpNow as a 24/7, digital access point that matches any student, faculty, or staff member to the right support resource, both on-and-off campus, for any type of crisis, in sixty seconds or less. With full campus customization, inclusive of campus branding and all relevant crisis support resources, FindHelpNow is a 100% anonymous, online tool that seamlessly allows anyone on campus to:
- Identify who’s in need
- Define support needs relevant to a comprehensive set of topic areas that lead to crisis,
- Explore all available campus resources and be immediately connected to any relevant support based upon the individual’s access factors (campus affiliation, insurance status, etc.).
Life gets hard. Finding help on campus should be easy. By creating a tool that both normalizes and streamlines access to crisis services, institutions can not only deliver on their promise to elevate mental health support as a campus priority, they can also reduce barriers of access for students in need, increase likelihood of service utilization, and ultimately make significant strides in cultivating a campus-wide framework for well-being and success.