- Nearly three-quarters of student affairs professionals, 72%, said the mental health of students and employees worsened during the past year, according to a new report from NASPA, a higher education association for student affairs administrators.
- Among those surveyed, 43% said the single greatest challenge to improving mental health on campus was an increasing severity in the mental health issues people face.
- On the positive side, the stigma around mental health is lessening. An overwhelming majority, 93%, said students have become more comfortable talking about mental health over the last five years.
One of the big questions college leaders face is how they can protect students' mental health. But NASPA's new survey also shines a light on mental health among college employees, many of whom are struggling.
The association partnered with teletherapy company Uwill to survey 131 student affairs professionals, including vice presidents of student affairs and heads of counseling centers, about mental health at colleges.
Nearly 70% of respondents said mental health among staff declined during the past year, while 65% said student mental health worsened over the same period.
Burnout among college employees is a top concern, with 67% of those surveyed reporting that both staff workload and burnout got worse in the past year.
"Mental health issues are on the rise with faculty, staff, and students, particularly in communities that may not traditionally have had access to the support resources they need or deserve," Sonya Clyburn, director of the counseling center at Morgan State University, said in the report.
Almost 71% of respondents said mental health resources for students somewhat or greatly increased in the past year. But 84% still said their campus should increase its financial investment in mental health services this upcoming year.
"Demand for counseling and therapy services is outpacing capacity at many institutions, and our survey findings highlight the fact that more student affairs professionals see a real need to increase investments in mental health and wellness support," Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA, said in the report.
Support for further investment seems likely at many of the respondents' institutions. Some 87% said their president or provost prioritizes mental health, and 28% said their single greatest strength on the issue was the support they received from senior leadership. None of the student affairs professionals surveyed reported that a lack of senior leadership support posed the biggest challenge.