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Colleges encourage the use of HEERF for mental health

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Colleges encourage the use of HEERF for mental health

The Department of Education on Thursday called on colleges to use higher education emergency funds (HEERF) for on-campus mental health services. The announcement gives college administrators an explanation that HEERF funds can be used for necessary mental health service improvements that were not originally included in HEERF legislation.

“Mental health is a major issue we hear from presidents,” said Jonathan Fansmith, vice president of government relations for the U.S. Board of Education. “It’s a very challenging environment for institutions, and these things are expensive. Therefore, the opportunity to use some of these funds for higher education, which the federal government has allocated for these purposes, is very useful. “

HEERF has allocated $ 76.2 billion to colleges nationwide as part of federal funding for COVID-19-related emergencies, including CARES, CRRSAA and ARP, to meet the immediate needs of students during a pandemic. This department guide not only signals to college administrators that funding may be spent on mental health services, but also provides examples of programs, resources, and services that colleges can implement to combat the rise of mental health on college campuses from the effects of the covid virus pandemic covid19 .

College students have increasingly struggled with anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic, and college leaders have shown that mental health is a top priority. Seventy-five percent of college presidents noted that mental health is a major problem to the 2021 polland data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 75 percent of adolescents aged 18 to 24 said in June 2020 they experienced mental health symptoms.

HEERF funding and mental health

The department provided Fr. detailed plan on how HEERF money can be used to meet mental health needs on campuses, which includes examples of how colleges across the country have used HEERF so far to change and expand their mental health support systems.

The Biden administration made the following recommendations:

  • Expand and strengthen personal and remote mental health services such as telehealth to increase student, faculty, and staff access to mental health counselors and professionals.
  • Create new resources to connect students to needed care through innovative techniques such as 24-hour hotlines and trainings on mental health prevention and intervention.
  • Create programs that in the long run expand awareness of mental health and resources on campuses.

Education Minister Miguel Cardona spoke Thursday at the University of California at Riverside, which he said is a model for mental health services for other higher education institutions. Several student leaders from UC Riverside spoke about which mental health services on campus they saw were successful in addressing mental health, and where they felt the university could improve.

“The pandemic has traumatized students of all ages, from losing loved ones to financial hardship to social isolation and learning disabilities,” Cardona said. “In discussions with students across the country, they were honest with me: they need the best mental health resources on campus.”

UC Riverside student leaders stressed that college students need a variety of mental health resources to choose from that can meet a number of needs. These may include peer groups, private counseling and therapy, and increased financial support to connect students with psychotherapists. The students said services such as on-campus counseling at no extra charge and free transportation for mental health admissions were successful at UC Riverside.

It has been found that telemedicine, which colleges can cover with HEERF, is expanding access to mental health care. TimelyMD, a telemedicine provider that serves more than a million students on 200 college campuses, found that after the pandemic, 70 percent of visits were for mental health, compared to 10 percent before the pandemic. In addition, 40 percent of mental health visits were after normal hours.

The central theme of the conversation was to increase the diversity of mental health staff, taking into account the diversity of the student population and to ensure that universities inform students about available resources.

“I think it should go back to these conversations with culture, and it’s okay for the community to have these conversations,” said Mario Mendoza, a health graduate at UC Riverside.

UC Riverside students came from a number of both university and student organizations that contribute to the mental and physical well-being of students. They noted that although UC Riverside is a model for mental health, there is still more work that can be done, and HEERF money can help solve this problem.

Jurica Escalante, a UC Riverside student who works for an organization on mentoring and mental health awareness called Active Minds, said it is important to increase funding for adequate mental health training for all students, not just student leaders like her. “Tuition is so limited – there are some types of tuition that cost more money than others,” she said.

Expanding access to learning, according to Escalante, would help more students be prepared to address mental health needs on their own and on campus as a whole.

In addition to direct mental health services, students noted that it is important for universities to provide resources that meet the basic needs of students, such as safe housing and food.

Finally, students stated that it is important for universities to invest long in mental health services.

“The next step in funding is to make sure that all schools that do not talk about mental health have been able to buy these resources, implement these resources, implement those programs that are needed to adequately meet these needs, which students now express more than ever “Escalante said.

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