As per the findings of a new report recently released by the American Council on Education (ACE), compared to three years ago, about eight in 10 university presidents agree that mental health of students has become more of a priority on their campuses. More than 400 college and university presidents responded during ACE’s third Pulse Point survey that was conducted in April 2019. Over 75% of the presidents led four-year universities and the remaining were at two-year institutions. Over 85% of presidents at public four-year institutions said that mental health of students has become more of a priority on their campuses, compared to three years ago. Close to one in three presidents at private and public non-profit four-year institutions said they hear about students with mental health issues on their campuses once a week or more.
“We know student academic success is hindered by poor mental health. I think it is significant to make mental well-being and health a campus-wide priority, and it’s for many college presidents,” said ACE’s research fellow and author of the report, Hollie Chessman.
Majority of presidents surveyed said student well-being is included in their strategic plan
According to the report, about three quarters of the presidents surveyed reported hearing about depression and anxiety among the top student mental health concerns on their campuses. The two mental health concerns were most likely heard by presidents leading private non-profit four-year institutions. Compared to these presidents, those at public four-year and two-year institutions were more likely to hear about concerns such as food insecurity and addiction. More than 80% of the presidents surveyed said that student well-being is part of their institution’s strategic plan, and more than 40% of them indicated student mental health is specifically mentioned in their plans.
More than 90% of the presidents surveyed said that they rely on their dean of students or VP of student affairs to address student mental well-being and health concerns. VP of student affairs was mentioned as the primary point person by more than eight in 10 presidents.
“It wasn’t a surprise. It certainly speaks to the pressure student affairs professionals are facing,” Chessman said.