NASEM Report on Supporting Student Mental Health and Well-being

February 8, 2021

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Title: Mental Health, Substance Use, and Wellbeing in Higher Education: Supporting the Whole Student

Author: Alan I. Leshner and Layne A. Scherer

A recent report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) presents findings from their recent research on “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Wellbeing in Higher Education: Supporting the Whole Student”, which includes 10 recommendations to further improve these efforts.

  1. Senior leadership and trustee boards should communicate the importance and priority of mental health and substance use issues at their institutions.
  2. Promoting well-being must be a campus-wide effort, led by leadership across the institution.
  3. Institutions should examine their leave of absence and re-enrollment policies and practices to make sure they are not an additional barrier for students and employees trying to take care of their mental health and well-being.
  4. Institutions and government agency partners must prioritize funding for mental health and well-being efforts.
  5. Higher education institutions must advocate at a local, state, and federal level to ensure reimbursements and healthcare plans provide adequate and accessible mental health and well-being support for students and employees.
  6. Institutions should routinely conduct assessments on the status of mental health and well-being; data should be disaggregated by various identities to continue improving services and practices for all students and employees.
  7. Institutions of higher education should work collaboratively with community agencies to provide students robust access to mental health and well-being services and support.
  8. Colleges and universities should provide and require professional development and training for faculty to understand how to create a classroom environment that promotes inclusivity, self-care, and understanding of students with mental health needs.
  9. New student orientations should embed and promote campus resources on mental health and well-being so incoming students understand that it’s part of the institutional culture.
  10. Institutions should provide culturally relevant services and diverse support, acknowledging that there is no single way to promote mental health and well-being, and that each student might need something different.

Major findings were also discussed by some of the committee members in a recent webinar. To learn more about the findings, recommendations, and read the full report, please click here.


 —Ángel Gonzalez

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