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The Role of the VPSA During Mental Health Crises

By: Sean on May 3, 2019 3:36:00 AM
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An alarming number of students suffer from poor mental health in the United States. According to CNBC, 1 in 3 college freshmen struggle with mental health issues. Students may feel depressed, anxious, paranoid, or emotionally troubled during their time at school. Unsurprisingly, campuses have seen a significant rise in students needing mental health services in recent years. According to Reuters, from 2009-2015 “the odds that a student had ever received campus mental health services rose by 30 percent...There was also a 37 percent higher likelihood of students saying they would seek help in the future if they needed it.” Based on these statistics, it's fair to say that the stigma behind asking for mental health assistance is fading.

On campus, the Vice President of Student Affairs provides executive-level leadership and vision in educational institutions, including responding to campus mental health crises. They are the point person for managing issues relevant to student life. However, in spite of pervasive mental health issues at universities, funding has been on a decline for mental health services.

According to CBPP, “of the 49 states (all except Wisconsin) analyzed over the full 2008-2017 period, 44 spent less per student in the 2017 school year than in 2008.” This decline in funding is a troubling trend since schools are having to do more with less, and come up with new ways to help their students.

Decreases in funding has also contributed to higher tuition, reduced the number of health professionals available, limited support services, and may lead to the elimination of important programs, such as mental health services.

However, there are still tools that administrators can use to help support mental health services on campus. For instance, administrators can use mobile platforms to fill in the gaps left by decreases in funding. One way mobile-first platforms can help is by allowing administrators to stay connected with their students anywhere and at any time. Administrators can also effectively and efficiently connect their students with campus services with the click of a button.

Back end tools, such as Ready Education’s Campus Cloud also has the ability to segment students into different groups and send them personalized push notifications. This allows administrators to follow up specifically with students who have already attended mental health counseling.

With the Campus Cloud, admins can send announcements and create events for specific cohorts of students (or the entire student body) and assess who attended these events. This can be helpful in identifying at-risk students. For example, if a student used to attend events regularly suddenly stopped, this could be an early sign that the student needs assistance.

Another great benefit to having a mobile campus platform is that it allows students to access the campus community at any time of day. This is essential as mental health crises don't always happen during office hours. If a student needs assistance in the middle of the night, they could turn to their peers on the shared campus wall. Mobile platforms also allow students to access information regarding support channels quickly and easily.

While mobile platforms won't solve the larger issue of decreases in funding, they are a tool that can help both administrators and students in times of need.

Ready Education