dotEDU Episode 11: Meeting Students Where They Are on Mental Health

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired on Dec. 9, 2019​

Nance Roy, chief clinical officer at the Jed Foundation, and Jan Collins-Eaglin, associate dean of students for wellness and personal success at Pomona College and an advisor at the Steve Fund, talk about effective strategies to help at-risk college students.

After the discussion, hosts Jon Fansmith and Lorelle Espinosa talk about the future of the FUTURE Act, which until it expired Sept. 30 provided a vital funding stream for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions. Legislation to restore the initiative has been revived in the Senate, where it was approved last week.  ​

Episode Notes

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

Conversation with Nance Roy and Jan Collins-Eaglin​

The FUTURE Act and Funding at MSIs

Senate Passes HBCU Funding, FAFSA Changes​
Inside Higher Ed | Dec. 6, 2019

Letter from ACE and 10 other higher education associations in support of the amended FUTURE Act

Protecting Our Future: FUTURE Act campaign site from UNCF

Cory Booker Bets $100 Billion on Historically Black Colleges and Universities​
The New York Times (sub. req.) | Dec. 3, 2019​​​​​

Transcript


​Jon Fansmith [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education podcast from the American Council on Education. I'm your host, Jon Fansmith from ACE's government relations office and I'm joined today, as usual, by my co-host, Lorelle Espinosa, vice president for research here at ACE. I don't know why I always get this wrong. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:21] Well, my title...It has changed since I've been here. But yes, that is the current one. 

Jon Fansmith [00:00:25] And it's an excellent title. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:27] Vice president of research--thank you. Simple, elegant, to the point. 

Jon Fansmith [00:00:30] Exactly. Much like you: simple, elegant, to the point. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:33] Thank you. 

Jon Fansmith [00:00:34] Which is why it's great to have you on with me. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:35] Yes, I'm excited to be here today. 

Jon Fansmith [00:00:38] Not somebody who is convoluted, you know, not elegant, I don't know what the antithesis of elegance would be. But anyway, it's a good counterbalance. So, you know, normally this is the section where I ask you where you've traveled recently. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:51] I know, I've done a lot of that this fall. 

Jon Fansmith [00:00:53] Yes, including to a few exotic locations. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:56] Well, my recent travels were vacation, so not work related. And my husband and I went to the beautiful cities of London and Barcelona for the week of Thanksgiving, which I highly recommend. First of all, going away for the week of Thanksgiving. It was nice. 

Jon Fansmith [00:01:12] And London and Barcelona are nice places to be any time. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:14] Yeah, not too shabby. That's right. Yeah, but you know what I found? In Barcelona, they still had Black Friday sales. And I really just wanted to get away from all of that. 

Jon Fansmith [00:01:25] So you didn't do any shopping, then? 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:27] No, I tried not to. 

Jon Fansmith [00:01:28] Well, that's...I guess that's a good escape from American consumerism tradition. And speaking of getting away and feeling nice, we actually have a really interesting subject today that we're going to talk about. We're going to discuss student mental health. And we're going to be joined by two experts in this area, who I think have a lot to say and a lot to contribute to our listeners’ understanding of the issue. They will be joining us a little bit later after the break. But we are joined first, and I should say one of them will be joining us in studio, one of them will be joining us remotely, but we will be joined in studio by Nance Roy, who is the chief clinical officer of the Jed Foundation and also assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine. And then remotely we're lucky to be joined from New York by Jan Collins-Eaglin, who is the scientific adviser at the Steve Fund and a former senior associate dean at Pomona College. So I think both the subject area is going to be a pretty fascinating one and we're very lucky to have two guests who can really fill in a lot of the blanks for me personally and also expand our listeners' understanding a bit. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:36] Yeah. And they're two individuals who we've been working closely with on the research team because we've been doing a lot on this topic. So I'm very excited myself to be able to talk to them. 

Jon Fansmith [00:02:46] Again, the podcast format doesn't allow people to see. Lorelle is leaning forward with a big smile on her face. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:50] Yeah, very excited. 

Jon Fansmith [00:02:51] She is not just saying that. That is being visually represented here. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:55] It's a serious topic and we're pleased to have them today. 

Jon Fansmith [00:02:59] Absolutely. And they'll be back with us right after the break. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:03:09] Great. And we're back, joined, as Jon said, with Jan and Nance, and, you know, we'd love to start our conversation, just hearing a little bit about your background, how you come to this work, anything that you think is important to share about your journey to the study of this and the practice that you've done in your careers around this topic. So Nance, maybe we'll start with you. Just a little bit of background for our listeners. 

Nance Roy [00:03:36] Sure. Well, I am a psychologist by training, and I started my career more years than I'd like to reveal, as a staff psychologist at a counseling center on a campus and then moved to director of health and counseling, disability services, etc., then an assistant dean, then an associate dean. So sort of been around the block in college health, both from a direct service as well as an administrative place. And then I got a call one day from our medical director at Jed, Victor Schwartz, asking me if I might be interested in coming on board at Jed to lead their higher ed initiatives. And so I thought, "Hmm." As much as it was a jump off a cliff to leave, you know, an academic institution and go to a nonprofit, it has been such a privilege to be able to work and really have a broad stroke across the country with colleges and universities and institutions like yours and others to really do this work at a national level. It's truly a privilege. And Jed is just a fabulous organization, I have to say. So I feel very lucky in that. 

Jon Fansmith [00:04:44] Can you tell people who are listening maybe a little bit more about Jed if they're not familiar with it already? 

Nance Roy [00:04:48] Yeah. So the Jed Foundation is about 20 years now. I think this is our 20th year. I joined five years ago. And so Jed was formed by a couple, Donna and Phil Satow, whose son Jed died by suicide when he was in college. And they really came away from...They went to the campus, of course, and they came away from that conversation with the president, feeling like not a lot was being done to promote well-being or prevent suicide. Of course, it was 20 years ago. And we've come a long way not to say there isn't still work to do. But, you know, the president very honestly and genuinely said, "What would you have me do?" You know, we're a campus of 40,000. It was a large school. You know, "We just don't know, what should we be doing?" And then that really gave them pause and collectively thought with others about what they could do to promote this mission. So that is our mission: to promote emotional well-being and hopefully reduce suicide and serious substance use on college campuses and with teens and young adults in general. 

Jon Fansmith [00:05:49] OK. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:05:51] Thanks. And Jan, tell us about your journey. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:05:55] My journey sounds very similar to Nance's actually. I'm a psychologist by training and I started in a counseling center. But this is where it veers off. I started working particularly with students of color in the counseling center and we began to talk about emotional mental health and persistence. So I saw that that was a real issue for the students. And so at that point, the vice president asked if I would work in their equity office. And so I did retention work for a few years, went back to the faculty and was a faculty member in psychology and education and did faculty development. And I got a call from a friend saying at Wayne State University in Detroit, they were just building...They were a commuter campus, but they were just building residence halls and they needed a counseling center. And so I started the counseling center at Wayne State and then counseling center director at Michigan State, moved to California and was associate dean and senior dean. Associate Dean and I oversaw disability, the student mental health, academic persistence. So it's been a very similar journey, working with counseling centers and the academic side together, which is really where I think the merging of those two domains is very exciting and it's where we need to go. So that's just a snapshot. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:07:54] Yeah, and a good preview of where we will go with the conversation. Thank you. 

Jon Fansmith [00:08:00] And did you want to tell listeners a little bit more about the Steve Fund as well? 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:08:05] Yes. So I'm currently—So the Steve Fund is a foundation to prevent...it's similar to Jed, really, to promote mental health and well-being, particularly for students of color. And so that's the whole focus. And so we look at, what are ways that colleges and universities can really support students of color, because we recognize that their emotional and mental health well-being is impacted by not just the psychological determinants and their sort of psychological space, but also by what's happening environmentally and socially and so that whole climate. So anyway, the Steve Fund has developed what they call the equity and mental health framework. And so my role is really to work with campuses to implement that framework. And we are fortunate enough to work with Jed, so we're partners in this together. So it's a really nice collaboration to bring these two foundations together. 

Jon Fansmith [00:09:33] It's great. And as we've been talking, as you've been relating your stories, we've used a bunch of different terms, probably much more familiar to the two of you than they would be to me. But maybe just to set some sort of background for a discussion. Can you give me a little sense...We address this topic as student mental health, but we've used terms like mental health, emotional health, well-being. Can you kind of give me a sense of some of the terminology that's in use in your line of work and on campuses and just sort of frame out or maybe even differentiate those terms and how they're used? 

Nance Roy [00:10:09] Sure. I guess I would say from my perspective, all of those terms pretty much refer to the same thing. I think, in terms of laypeople, I think that they're interchangeable. I like emotional well-being or emotional health myself, because when we talk about mental illness or mental health, it still carries some type of stigma for some segments of the population. And so when we say well-being, it not only takes away from that potential stigma, but it also really speaks to the prevention and the positive side of mental health, which I think is what we're about. Because if we really want to be successful in reducing suicides or serious substance use, whether it's for students of color or any population, we really want to be talking about prevention. So promoting well-being and emotional well-being, which is our specific niche, I think does that a little bit better. 

Jon Fansmith [00:11:04] So it speaks to a more comprehensive and also proactive approach to overall well-being. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:11:10] And let's talk a little bit about the problem itself. So, this is a big issue on college campuses. That's why we're talking about it, but truly. Every place that we go as ACE to talk with leaders about the things that are keeping them up at night, as we say, this often comes to the top of the list. We know that, for example, from a survey that we did of college presidents not too long ago, that eight out of 10 presidents indicated that student mental health has become more of a priority even in the last three years. So we seem to be in a moment. And they also say that it reaches their desks quite frequently, you know, so anything that lands on the president's desk over and over of course is getting their attention. And they also think it's a dominant issue for them as a group. And we can't say that about a lot of issues, right? That it really rises to that level and it's consistent. So just tell us a little bit about the contours of this issue. I know you both work in data and you talk a lot about the statistics around it, but just level-set us a little bit there. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:12:21] Well, the data is really clear. The research is clear. A recent study through Jed and RAND Corporation talked about not emotionally prepared, that students are coming to college not prepared emotionally to handle the stresses. One of the things that we know is that there are multiple stressors that this generation is facing. We talk about the financial. How are they paying for it? Can they afford to even be here? What does that financial burden do to them? We have a lot of first-generation and low-income students coming into colleges now. And so what is that like for them? And what is the emotional burden? What is the toll that it takes on our students? Also, this is the age where we will see mental illness occur. This is when developmentally this is what happens. So as I see it, we have more students that are absolutely aware of services and demand services. And so our counseling centers are really stressed with the capacity. Can they meet the capacity? For students of color, we have a whole added dimension that they are experiencing the same factors, the same pressures of other students, but there is an added stigma culturally for coming and seeking services and help-seeking. And so that added to it just increases the mental health burden. Students are being hospitalized more and we're seeing the depression and anxiety keep rising. So the students are reporting more anxiety than depression now, and that anxiety just overrides their ability to perform and to be successful. Nance?

Nance Roy [00:14:56] Yeah. So I would just say, you know, I think for a couple of reasons, this is landing on presidents desks. And in one follow up on Jan's point, one of those reasons is due to the fact that counseling centers are overwhelmed. They can't keep up with demand. And there's a big push for more direct service, which, of course, requires resources that many institutions simply don't have. And then secondly, as Jan mentioned, many psychiatric hospitals, more psychiatric hospitalizations, but also more students tending to need to take some time away from school or potentially even drop out due to mental health reasons. And that, of course, impacts the bottom line that presidents need to be worried about. I mean, that's their job, right? And so when we think about, you know, increasing numbers of students not being able to perform up to their potential academically, be academically successful or make it to graduation, that certainly has an impact on the institution, on retention rates on what really, truly is the mission of the university, which is to help students make it successfully through. So I think it's great that college presidents are coming to this issue, because we know from our work, we work with over 300 institutions now across the country, and we know that when senior leaders are on board and they get it, if you will, the needle moves and we need to have senior leaders on board. And as Jan mentioned, you know, this isn't going to go away. Anxiety, as she said, has increased. Depression was the number one diagnosis that students came with for many years. And now anxiety has surpassed that. And I think that also is due to a number of factors. I mean, look at our world right now. We're divisive. We're filled with hate. There's terrorist attacks, there are school shootings. Many of these students have grown up where parents have gone through the recession. So economic instability, student loan debt. I mean, there's many, many factors that I think are contributing to the problem and then having an impact on the institution. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:17:08] We also see...one other piece is social media. That is a huge force in a lot of the anxiety and ways that students don't engage. They disconnect. And so we're seeing a lot more social isolation because they're really working and interacting with their phones, with social media. There are a lot of comparisons. It's a very vulnerable stage developmentally in their life. And so if they're looking at social media, Instagram, I won't mention Facebook because that's for old folks I heard now, Instagram and whatever platform they're on, there's always this comparison. It's very interesting to walk across campus where students have earbuds in and they're looking at their phones. It's a real indication to me that they don't look up, they don't interact. And so that isolation sort of reinforces the anxiety. So we have a lot going on. And how do you manage it? Where's the container to really balance that? That's what we have to work with. 

Jon Fansmith [00:18:35] And I think that's a really interesting point, especially because the audience of our podcast is higher education leaders. You both did a really good job identifying that there is increasing demand on counseling services on campuses, maybe not even fully representing the scale of students who have needs. So, you know, obviously, we talked a little bit about...Some of this is resource dependent, but are there other things institutions should be looking at to address this problem proactively,  to manage, you know, what's clearly a high profile and important problem on campuses? 

Nance Roy [00:19:10] I mean, I always say that oftentimes there's a cry, "We need more mental health providers. We need more counselors in the counseling center." And I think that you can add as many more counselors as you want to a counseling center. And it's not going to fix this problem. Rather, I think...Now, certainly if your counseling center's under-resourced and not staffed adequately that needs to be addressed. But for the most part, I think institutions are doing a fairly good job at that. So what else do we need to do? And our approach at Jed is really to take a public health approach to address these issues. And by that, I mean the emotional well-being of students needs to be a campus-wide concern, also with support from the top down, as I mentioned earlier. And by that, I mean everyone on campus has a role to play. So there's no wrong door for a student to walk through to get support, whether it's their coach or an academic advisor or someone in residence life or a faculty member or a fellow student. Not to be therapists, mind you, but not every student on campus needs psychotherapy by the way. But many of us need support. And so getting a warm hand, a kind word, a gentle inquiry from someone in your world, the student's world that they organically trust and know can go a long way to providing the support when someone may be just beginning to struggle and potentially avert that from spiraling into a situation where someone does need direct service, direct clinical care. So I think the public health approach is really the way to go and working with partners across campus. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:20:48] We've heard Jan agreeing with you along the way on that. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:20:54] And, you know, I want to talk a little bit about the opportunity campuses have with the SAMHSA grant, which is the Garrett Lee Smith Grant, which really has campuses who get the grant take a public health approach. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:21:11] And where does that grant come from, Jan? Just for our listeners. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:21:15] It comes from SAMHSA. So it's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:21:22] Right. And it's a federal entity? 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:21:24] Yeah, it's a federal entity. And it's a federal grant for three years. And what you have to...The RFP, what you have to produce for that, is training for faculty and staff, training for students around mental health and education, providing multiple ways to deliver the education, the cycle education that's so important that Nance was speaking to. It's so...I've seen this at campuses where the president will come out and talk about mental health, that sends such an important message or the deans talk about mental health. And what happens is then it is a discussion that everyone is having and the kind word and gentle persuasion, "It sounds like you need help. Let's go and see where we can get that." Faculty now are more on the front lines than ever in getting messages from students either in-person or in writing on their assignments. There's so many little red flags and signs of when students are in distress that everyone needs to understand and know and do something about. 

Nance Roy [00:22:54] And that do something is not always, "Oh, let me pick up the phone and call the counseling center." Again, certainly know where to go if someone presents an acute need or they seem to be in crisis. But again, knowing, "How can I have a conversation as a faculty member myself" and then...or as a coach or any of the other people. And then if, of course, someone reveals a significant issue, "How do I help facilitate that connection?" 

Jon Fansmith [00:23:21] And some of this sounds, I mean, in some ways, very simple. 

Nance Roy [00:23:25] It's not rocket science. 

Jon Fansmith [00:23:27] Well, that's good. I don't understand rocket science at all. So this I might have a chance with. Are there examples of institutions that are not only incorporating...you know, I think what you both have outlined is relatively basic principles for approaching the issue, but maybe some innovative practices that have shown really promising results or very positive returns?

Nance Roy [00:23:48] Sure, Jan, do you want to talk about Pomona by any chance? 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:23:53] I'd love to. So Pomona College is part of the Claremont Colleges. So they're seven campuses and one counseling center, which is a very unique model and presents with some very unique needs. And so we actually have a Garrett Lee Smith Grant. And part of what we're doing is everyone coming together because our students take classes in every campus. So everyone coming together, having common protocols, doing gatekeeper training with faculty and staff, facilities, anyone who touches the life of the student, because we know that students talk to all those touch points. So that's the key. And then we have developed relationships with providers in the community and then we have meetings with them, bring them up to date on the data of the students. We also are engaging with the Healthy Minds study that is supported also through the Jed Foundation, which provides each campus with a snapshot of what they're doing. There is another service for international students and this is a whole different approach where you don't talk about, initially, mental health and well-being, but you talk about academic success and support. And that's the way you bring students. In a project Nance and I've been working with for quite a while is integrating primary care to provide mental health services along with a counseling center. So what we're doing is figuring out, "Where do those students go first?" And so students will go to get their health checked out far quicker than they'll get their mental health checked out. And so how do primary care providers also come into the picture? So it's really an integrated approach that we promote and support. And that really is the best. Looking at not just one-on-one therapy, but is there a telehealth approach? And there are some very good options out there. I'm doing workshops and seminars. So different ways that you can reach students, going to each individual college if you're in a big setting and working with those deans and figuring out what's the culture of the students in that college. And so for international students, we have developed another approach where you engage them around their academic success and lead into the emotional health, because we know they will not engage initially around mental health. So the key is, how do students engage in this topic, engage in help seeking? It's the same with the Steve Fund. What is the hook? What is the culture of the student? And then we adapt our messages and adapt to meet that. 

Nance Roy [00:27:49] All right, great. You know, I will just say that all of the consortium schools that are in the California Claremont system are part of Jed Campus. And the reason I asked Jan to talk about what they were doing is they actually are doing quite a lot around this public health initiative, as Jan just explained, even to the point where they asked me to come and talk to their board of trustees, you know, at a couple of their institutions. So there's real support from a very high level. And that is, I think in part why they're able to do as much as they are because there's such a real commitment. Also, you mentioned the Garrett Lee Smith Grant that I think Pomona has and many of the schools that joined Jed Campus, which is one of our programs actually where we work with schools, have that grant and use some of the funds to work with us, because as Jan mentioned, that public health approach is...we're very in touch and in sync around how to do this work in the best possible way. So one of the other things that we found in terms of innovative strategies that I'm not sure if Jan mentioned or not, is getting primary care more involved in the screening and detection of mental health, since we know that far more students will come to the health center, then will necessarily go to their counseling center. And so if we're screening for mental health in primary care, just as our nation is doing, you know, as I mentioned, I think when we were talking earlier, you know, every time I pick up the paper or read the news, there's another article about behavioral health being integrated into doctor's offices, ERs, whatever. And I do think higher ed is a little behind the eight ball in that regard. So we're just picking up on getting schools engaged and doing this work. And then once they are identified, if they're not in serious acute need, how can you hold them in primary care? In self-care plans? In behavioral management plans? Because you can refer someone to counseling all day long. And if they never go and you know, we want to make sure we're catching those that might otherwise fall through the cracks and supporting them in a place where they're comfortable. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:29:56] Yeah, I have heard presidents say, "You can't counseling center your way out of this." 

Nance Roy [00:30:03] Exactly. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:30:03] Right. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:30:04] And you mentioned that earlier that well, first of all, not everyone goes there, but we need a different approach, a public health approach, as you said. 

Jon Fansmith [00:30:14] And one of the things that I found very interesting is that there's an entirely different approach for international students and that concept of identifying the student culture and then accommodating your approach to what their culture is. And one of the things was, approach them about their academic success. Nance, you also mentioned earlier, from a president's perspective, a lot of this also ties into concerns about retention and persistence. What do we know about the links between well-being, mental well-being on campus and students' well-being and the ability to get through to graduation, that ability to complete? 

Nance Roy [00:30:49] So we do know the data is clear and the research shows that there is a significant connection and correlation between emotional well-being and retention and academic success and performance. And that makes just sort of common sense. If you're anxious, if you're depressed, especially if you're depressed and anxious to the point where you're not getting out of bed, you're not leaving your room, you're not making it to class, you're not doing assignments, clearly that's going to impact your academic performance. And then if it impacts your academic performance enough, you'll end up needing to take a medical leave. And I think that, back to one of your earlier questions about why is this landing on presidents’ desks, I think another reason is, and you've seen this in the news of late quite a bit, what happens when students need to take a leave? Perhaps there's some discussion and discrepancy between how the student perceives taking that leave and how the institution sees that student taking a leave. And that results in all sorts of sometimes litigation and really having to think very carefully about when a student is struggling to the point where they really can't perform academically and it's not healthy or safe. How do we help them? How do we put policies, programs, services in place to help them stay in school? You know, I think the whole movement has switched in a very good way. Used to be that if someone mentioned that they may have had a suicidal thought or they may be significantly depressed, schools were quick to put them on a medical leave. And so legislation has come out that said you can't do that anymore. And that's correct. I think sometimes the needle has swung all the way to the other side, where students are at serious risk and institutions are still a little anxious about whether or not they should put them on leave. And so I think that whole arena, if we think about the sort of intention behind the rulings, it's that you can't just quickly dismiss a student from school because they're struggling. You must do due diligence and put in place any kind of service they might need. Perhaps they need different housing, perhaps they need an academic accommodation, reduced course load. There's many things we can do to try and help the student stay in school. If, after all of your best efforts, the student is still at a tremendously high risk, then I think you have the conversation about a leave. But I think that issue is very hot and still very controversial. And that's another reason why I think that comes to presidents' attention. I did want to say one other thing about international students, though, and certainly as I reinforce exactly what Jan said, since culturally...mental health is often still a taboo subject. Jan, I'd be curious to know if the Claremont schools have implemented. There is a program out of Canada, actually, where they offer services...they're teletherapy, telehealth. They're not really...I don't even think they call them teletherapy, but telehealth... 

Jon Fansmith [00:34:07] Meeting with someone remotely. 

Nance Roy [00:34:09] Yes. And you meet with someone. They have clinicians that speak many, many different languages, and are themselves from many different countries and cultures. So a student can actually connect with some, with a clinician from there who understands their culture, knows their language [crosstalk], which is...and those conversations, back to Jan's point, can be like 10 minutes. "I'm gonna go in to give a talk and I'm really anxious because I don't like public speaking." And so someone can talk with you and talk you through that for a few minutes. It's not traditional psychotherapy, but it's a tremendous service. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:34:42] A support. 

Nance Roy [00:34:43] Yeah. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:34:44] Yeah. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:34:44] And it's a tremendous service. And we found that our international students use it. And our students said study abroad also has the capacity to use it. So when a student is abroad and begins to have some real challenges, we have referred them to this program that they can use on their phone and they can call. And it has been tremendously helpful. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:35:13] There's also text versions of this, right? I've seen...I mean, there's one that's very popular. Is it the crisis text line? Yeah. There's a really nice story about that in The New York Times, I believe a year or two ago. But yeah, texting. I mean, this sounds like meeting students where they are, how they want to be met. It's also anonymous. So it maybe doesn't carry the stigma of sitting down and [crosstalk] someone. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:35:41] And that concept of meeting students where they are. 

Jon Fansmith [00:35:46] I think that's a really great point to start to wrap up our conversation with. But before we do, I want to give Jan and Nance a chance. Was there anything you really felt we should have brought up or touched on or that where Lorelle and I dropped the ball and didn't follow up where we should have? 

Nance Roy [00:36:03] Well, we could talk for another three hours. How much time do we really have?

Lorelle Espinosa [00:36:06] We could. Yeah.

Nance Roy [00:36:08] I think actually we've done a pretty good job of covering the main topics. I do think to follow up just a bit on what Jan just said about meeting students where they are and expanding services. It's not to say that we're going to replace, you know, face-to-face traditional psychotherapy or group psychotherapy. That will always have a role. But there are other rules that I think higher ed is just really embracing. And things like teletherapy, telepsychiatry, especially for institutions that are fairly remote where students may not have access to, especially psychiatry. There's no transportation opportunities, things like sleep, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other online psychotherapies that students can do at midnight in their dorm room. Apps that they can access on their phones. So I think the more tentacles we can have to reach students again where they are. Some may never want to do a face-to-face. Others may only want to do a face-to-face. So let's provide many options with many partners across campus and hopefully that will ultimately produce an environment on campus that is compassionate and caring. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:37:26] I would like to just say that we need to understand what students protective factors are. And by protective factors I mean, what will help them to thrive and to be more resilient? When a student is struggling, maybe a protective factor is an animal, you know, and they're connected to that. Or maybe a protective factor is their spirituality and their faith. And how do we connect them to their faith practice to help them to just thrive and to keep going? Maybe a protective factor is for, particularly I'm thinking of students of color, to see someone like them in a role where they can connect and relate, which then goes to what our hiring practice is. And so there are a range of resilience and protective factors that we really need to understand and in understanding that to help bolster it, support it, and increase them. 

Jon Fansmith [00:38:41] And I think those are great thoughts to end on and obviously a lot for people listening to think about, particularly as they go back to their own campus and examine what their practices are. I want to thank you both very much for joining us today and for a great conversation. And I think, as you pointed out, we could easily do another three hours on this. So it always seems a little like we're cutting it short. But we do really appreciate your time and you both have very busy schedules today. So thanks for taking the time to join us. 

Nance Roy [00:39:10] Thanks for having us. 

Jan Collins-Eaglin [00:39:12] Thank you so much. 

Jon Fansmith [00:39:14] And we'll be right back after a short break for Lorelle and I to talk about a few things happening here in Washington. 

Jon Fansmith [00:39:24] And welcome back. I want to take one more opportunity to thank Jan and Nance for joining us for a conversation that was, I think, both enlightening and obviously very important for campus leaders and members of the campus community as a whole. As we sort of wrap up that portion of our discussion, Lorelle, you'd mentioned some work you had done, and I know there's more in this area that ACE has done. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:39:44] Yeah. So we've been doing work on student mental health and well-being for a number of years under the leadership of Hollie Chessman, who is on my team, Dr. Hollie Chessman. And I'll just mention a few things. I mean, like I said, we've heard from our members loud and clear that this is a big issue. And as ACE, we are responsive to that. 

Jon Fansmith [00:40:03] Continue to hear from them, too. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:40:04] And we keep producing in this area for that reason. You know, we have a really, really successful blog series on this, higheredtoday.org. Everything from, you know, unpacking non-suicidal self injury all the way to how to better support students of color. Jed and Steve Fund are both featured there, those two individuals and their work. And you know, we really try to make those blog series very actionable. So it's not just "what's the problem," it's "what's the solution?" What are the strategies that are being employed? So I really encourage leaders to check that out, again higheredtoday.org. We've also been working with Healthy Minds recently. We have a brief on the return on investment into these types of services. Yeah, what is the ROI? I mean, that's a big question, for presidents, especially. 

Jon Fansmith [00:40:55] Not one you generally think about when discussing well-being, but obviously for campuses it is an important factor. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:41:01] We talked about how it relates to retention and graduation. I mean, that's the bottom line. So anyway, just definitely take a look at the ACE web site. Do a quick search of this topic. You'll find stuff. Go to the blog. And yeah, there's a lot of players working on this. So, you know, really familiarize yourself. We'll put a list up on the notes for the podcast. 

Jon Fansmith [00:41:24] On the landing site for this podcast. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:41:27] So tell me a little bit about your week. You've been consumed with one particular thing anyway. 

Jon Fansmith [00:41:33] Well, with one part, always consumed with a lot of little things, but... 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:41:36] There's a prevailing one. 

Jon Fansmith [00:41:38] And it's...in sort of a happy change, this is a positive development. We've talked on the podcast before about the Future Act, which is funding for minority serving institutions that is used primarily for STEM education programs, but also for institutional capacity building. So this money, about $255 million a year from the federal government that had expired at the end of September and then held up in a lot of political wrangling, even where there was bipartisan support for the program they couldn't find a way through. Well, as we record this, the Senate is considering and likely to pass a new version of the bill that would permanently extend that funding. So, instead of a short term fix for it, this would make it so every year going forward that funding is available to those institutions. They did it by pairing it with a bill that also has bipartisan support, which would link the IRS data to the Department of Education data. It sounds like a minor thing, but in practice what that means. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:42:36] No, that's big. 

Jon Fansmith [00:42:37] It's huge. Students who are applying for federal financial aid, the FAFSA form would have 22 less questions they'd have to fill out because it’d all be pre-populated. So it makes it easier particularly for low-income students to apply for and access federal financial aid. The other thing it does, which is great, is people who are on income driven repayment plans where the government looks at how much you earned and says this is how much you owe on your loans going forward. All of that data will now be automatic. It used to be you have to fill really complicated paperwork. There were tons of errors in the processing of that. We don't do servicing very well. This will streamline all that. It'll make it accurate. It will take a lot of burden off borrowers, which particularly for those plans, tend to be the vehicles for people who might be struggling to repay. So making one less thing they have to do is going to help a lot of students avoid default, manage their repayment and make the kind of payments they can afford to make. So really improve the government's servicing on the side. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:43:29] That's great. That's a lot. 

Jon Fansmith [00:43:31] It's a lot. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:43:31] No wonder you've been consumed all week. 

Jon Fansmith [00:43:33] Yeah. And, you know, it's again, I said it's a happy thing. This is very bipartisan. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:43:38] Which is rare, these days. 

Jon Fansmith [00:43:39] It's incredibly rare. And it's likely, as I said, to pass the Senate as we record this, it's going to go to the House. There is one problem. I'm super positive. Obviously, I'm never super positive. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:43:50] No, you're really not. 

Jon Fansmith [00:43:53] Lifelong practice. The tax folks in the House don't like giving up control over their jurisdiction. And so they have concerns about privacy and linking different databases to the IRS database. They take that very seriously. So they've previously objected to this idea. There's some thought they may object to it again. If they do object, the bill can't go forward in the House. So I think there's a lot of interest and effort. ACE sent up a letter to the Senate in support. We're going to reach out to the House again. We're going to put a real effort on emphasizing the importance of doing this, the benefits of doing this, and hopefully we'll see a happier resolution than the last few times this has been tried. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:44:34] Well, the topic of minority serving institutions is one that we've touched on a number of times in this podcast. 

Jon Fansmith [00:44:41] An important issue. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:44:42] It is. And it's, just speaking of policy and politics, it's on the campaign trail being talked a lot about, but especially historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs. And what caught my eye yesterday was Corey Booker proposing $100 billion, right with a B for HBCUs, which of course our research shows and a lot of other recent research shows is consistently underfunded as a sector. And especially when you look at what is sort of appropriated versus what has been allowed to... 

Jon Fansmith [00:45:19] Right. What's been provided, what's been allowed to lapse. The funding's really lagged behind the growth of those institutions. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:45:24] Yes. As is the case with many other MSIs that are growing very quickly, like Hispanic-serving institutions. But yeah, so that was interesting. And, you know, his proposal really is pretty comprehensive. It includes funding for research on climate change, infrastructure improvements, and STEM, which again, is something I'd talk a lot about at HBCUs specifically again. So, yeah, interesting. You know, we've seen some of that from, not to that degree, but targeted, very intentional support for HBCUs from some of the other candidates. So it'll be interesting to see this continue to play out. 

Jon Fansmith [00:46:00] Yeah. And you mentioned the other candidates. It's nice, overdue as well, to see this recognition of the role those institutions play, and the disproportionate impact they have in terms of producing, you know, educators of color and scientists, doctors. I mean, the numbers are...and I've seen reports you have produced that you detail that so I encourage listeners to check them out. But it is. It's almost staggering the outsized impact these institutions have, especially when compared to the reduced funding they often receive. So obviously very worthwhile cause and a positive development politically. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:46:35] Yeah. So we'll see what happens with the FUTURE Act. 

Jon Fansmith [00:46:38] We will. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:46:39] I think by the time people listen to this, there will have been some resolution. 

Jon Fansmith [00:46:43] Hopefully passage in the Senate and action in the House and we'll keep our fingers crossed. This is a uniquely positive wrap up for the two of us. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:46:50] It is for us. Yeah. 

Jon Fansmith [00:46:52] This is more of a Sarah and Jon positive wrap up. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:46:56] I'm glad to end positively. We're nearing the end of the year. We're going to go out positive. 

Jon Fansmith [00:47:01] We're ending on a high note. Almost ending on a high note, which I should remind listeners, we'll have another episode before the end of the year. You can find those resources that Lorelle mentioned as well as some of the information from Jan and Nance on the landing page for this podcast, which you can find www.acenet.edu/podcast. In addition, you can subscribe to this podcast if you like what you're listening to at Apple podcasts, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts. Finally, and I say this every time we do one of these episodes, we strongly encourage you to send us comments, thoughts, feedback, questions at our email address, at podcast@acenet.edu. Again, strongly encourage people do that. Criticisms of my co-host, very strongly encouraged. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:47:52] We would love ideas though. 

Jon Fansmith [00:47:53] We would. 

Lorelle Espinosa [00:47:53] What else should we be talking about? 

Jon Fansmith [00:47:55] I really want to do this. Somebody sends us a question. We answer the question at the end. I think that's a great way to do that. So signing off. I want to thank our producers, Malcolm, Crystal, Audrey, Carly, and Laurie, who make us sound much better than we otherwise would episode to episode. And especially thank you, Lorelle, for joining me again here on dotEDU. And thanks all of you for listening. ​


About the Podcast

​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast at the dotEDU page.

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