ACE Report Offers Recommendations for Mental Health Task Forces
December 11, 2020

ACE has released a new mental health guidebook for college and university leaders looking to take action to promote and foster positive mental health and well-being for their students, faculty, and staff.  

In Mental Health Task Forces in Higher Education (PDF), researchers Hollie M. Chessman, Darsella Vigil, and Maria Claudia Soler analyze 16 task force reports and their recommendations from 15 postsecondary institutions in the last 10 years. Each of the task forces was appointed by a president or provost who charged the groups with evaluating campus environments and climates around mental health. Interviews with 10 task force leaders also offer context for the recommendations and considerations raised in the analysis. 

Overall, the report explores what institutions should consider when convening their own mental health task forces, offering suggestions around issues related to scope and purpose, structure, campus resources, and communication.

The ACE research team also categorized all 469 task force recommendations and found they often fell under three overarching themes:

  • Focus on the overall campus culture and climate to promote, improve, and foster positive mental health and well-being for all community members.
  • Improve access to services and support for mental health.
  • Make administrative improvements that are long-term and sustainable, requiring changes to policies, protocols, and procedures.

Over the last decade, national data have shown a rise in college student mental distress and an increase in demand at campus counseling centers. In an ACE Pulse Point survey conducted in 2019, eight out of 10 college and university presidents indicated student mental health had become more of a priority on their campus than just three years ago. And now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, preliminary data reveals concerning signs of rising mental health issues.

Nearly 70 percent of presidents identified student mental health as among their most pressing issues in ACE’s latest Pulse Point survey, which focuses on the impact COVID-19 is having on colleges and universities. Over 66 percent of presidents also report an increase in the utilization of mental health services at their institution due to COVID-19.

Click here (PDF) to read the full report.


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ACE's Pulse Point Surveys

Pulse Point surveys gather the insights of college and university leaders through a brief set of questions designed to get their take on the decisions, issues, and challenges they face.

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