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.
- Senior leadership and trustee boards should communicate the importance and priority of mental health and substance use issues at their institutions.
- Promoting well-being must be a campus-wide effort, led by leadership across the institution.
- 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.
- Institutions and government agency partners must prioritize funding for mental health and well-being efforts.
- 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.
- 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.
- Institutions of higher education should work collaboratively with community agencies to provide students robust access to mental health and well-being services and support.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.