Mental Health, Higher Education, and COVID-19: Strategies for Leaders to Support Campus Well-Being

Mental Health, Higher Education, and COVID-19: Strategies for Leaders to Support Campus Well-Being

A brief from the American Council on Education — co-authored with Active Minds, the American College Health Foundation, the Healthy Minds Network, the JED Foundation, the Mary Christie Foundation, and the Steve Fund — outlines strategies for addressing college students' mental health and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic. The brief, Mental Health, Higher Education, and COVID-19: Strategies for Leaders to Support Campus Well-Being (12 pages, PDF), recommends that higher education leaders ensure that communication to students is consistent, caring, and clear; 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; and inform decision-making through assessments. A survey conducted by Active Minds found that one in five students report that COVID-19 has significantly worsened their mental health and that many said a lack of regular and compassionate communication from their institutions was a primary stress factor. To support faculty and staff well-being, leaders should consider realigning expectations for productivity and increasing flexibility, including adjusting timelines for tenure, reappointment, and the evaluation and promotion process. And assess mental health needs through student surveys and data collection to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of programs and services on and off campus.