New Information for Leaders Looking to Support Student Mental Health and Well-Being
May 13, 2020

As campus leadership teams move to address student mental health during the pandemic, ACE has co-authored, along with several other organizations, a new brief that identifies three major strategies for leaders to consider during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Recent surveys of presidents shows there is real concern about how the disruption of in-person classes will affect students' already-rising rates of anxiety and depression. One survey, conducted by Inside Higher Ed, finds that over 90 percent reported being very or somewhat concerned about student mental health during the COVID-19 crisis, making it their top concern. And ACE's April 2020 Pulse Point Survey of college and university presidents suggested that a little over a third of presidents surveyed plan on making more investments in student mental health due to COVID-19.

The paper, “Mental Health, Higher Education, and COVID-19: Strategies for Leaders to Support Campus Well-Being," reflects on this and other data and offers examples and resources to help guide decision-making, including ways that leadership can adopt an equity lens with each of these mental health strategy. It also identifies three major strategies for leaders to consider as they respond to support student mental health during COVID-19 and beyond:

  1. Ensure that communication to students is consistent, caring, and clear.
  2. Consider the mental health and well-being of all campus community members, including faculty and staff who are on the front lines of serving and supporting students.
  3. Inform decision-making through assessments.

The authors encourage leaders to also assess several other considerations such as: what students are telling schools they need now, in addition to when they return to school; how do the decisions of higher education leaders affect mental health service delivery, prevention, and wellness; and are institutional strategies considering the needs of diverse student populations? The COVID-19 pandemic is not affecting students equally. It appears likely to exacerbate the unique mental health issues faced by students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and low-income students.

The paper was co-authored by the following organizations: Active Minds, American Council on Education, American College Health Association, Healthy Minds Network, JED Foundation, Mary Christie Foundation, and The Steve Fund. Click here to read the full brief.