Mental Health of Our Students – Are We at Crisis Proportions Here at UK?

From UGE Weekly Update’s Reading for the Week by Dr. Ben Withers:

Within the last week, a UK faculty member shared her experience in trying to assist students struggling to address issues of mental health while they strive to succeed at UK. It was clear from this conversation that this faculty member worked mightily to assist her students, just as many of our dedicated staff and faculty are doing, meeting with them individually and making sure that the students reach the services of UK’s Counseling Center.

A range of articles and studies have documented what is recognized as a growing crisis on college campuses. Informative surveys can be found in professional journals, such as this 2009 essay in Psychiatric Times, a layperson’s overview in 2010 in the New York Times and, more recently, Gregg Henriques’ blog posts that surveys the student mental health crises, describes its causes, and suggest approaches to address solutions.

A Strategic Primer on College Student Mental HealthFaculty and staff confronting these challenges may find the overview and bibliography found in Strategic Primer for College Mental Health useful (published by NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the American Council on Education, and the American Psychological Association). As one section of the report states what ought to be obvious: “Mental and Behavioral Health Problems are Learning Problems.” The primer argues that institutions such as UK which prioritize opportunity, retention and graduation rates should look carefully at how we serve students.

Beyond the statistics, the primer argues, the reason we are here is to help students and alumni learn to lead successful lives after graduation. Mental health of students, staff, and faculty is crucial to that success: “Given the complex relationships among mental health, problematic health behaviors, learning, campus safety, and the quality of the learning environment, mental and behavioral health should be a strategic priority on every campus.”

For those wondering about the costs of providing these services, check out Daniel Eisenberg & Sarah Ketchen Lipson (University of Michigan) Data from the Healthy Minds Network: The Economic Case for Student Mental Health Services.

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About UK Student and Academic Life

Undergraduate Education is now recreated within the Division of Student and Academic Life in the Provost's Office at the University of Kentucky.
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