Comments to the U.S. Department of Education on Addressing Student Mental Health

This week, The Hope Center at Temple University submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education ("ED") on ways to address student mental and behavioral health needs and/or substance use disorder in higher education. 

Improving mental health among our nation’s 19 million college students demands a comprehensive and coordinated approach within and across institutions, state agencies, and federal policymakers. It also requires acknowledging that mental health challenges do not exist in isolation: any solutions must address the close link between mental and behavioral health challenges and financial or material basic needs insecurity. Studies show that students experiencing inadequate nutrition, hunger, food insecurity, or other challenges related to poverty may experience higher rates of anxiety, stress, and depression. At the same time, mental health challenges that go untreated can result in students experiencing basic needs insecurity while enrolled in school.

We call on ED and institutions to work toward comprehensive solutions, which should include surveying students, faculty, and other stakeholders on a range of measures related to mental health, belonging, and basic needs; inventorying the available resources on campus and whether students have consistent, timely access to them; increasing the availability of mental health resources, particularly at under-resourced institutions; evaluating existing programs for their effectiveness; and building comprehensive basic needs supports that help students access all of the financial aid, public benefit, and other resources for which they may be eligible.