Local Community Colleges to Boost Mental Health Resources for Students
Connecticut State Community College is hiring seven mental health practitioners and adding more campus activities after a student survey found many of them felt isolated and needed support.
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CT State Community College (CT State) announced that it will hire seven additional mental health and wellness counselors and develop new programs as part of a plan to provide greater access to on-site counseling and wellness services at its 12 community colleges.
The expansion comes after receiving feedback from students and a recent Healthy Minds survey of Connecticut community college students reporting 68% needed mental health support in the past year, mirroring similar data to the Health Minds Network’s national survey of students from more than 450 colleges and universities. The survey was a part of a partnership with outside experts to evaluate services and student needs on every campus.
“CT State has made it a priority to increase support for our students in the wake of this national mental health crisis affecting college students,” said CT State President John Maduko, M.D. “Making sure all students have the same level of access to mental health services is integral to our plan for CT State in creating a consistent, positive experience that fosters student success and improves their overall college experience.”
With the addition of the new counselors, each college will have an expert on-site. Counseling and medical support will continue to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a contracted telehealth partner.
“Even prior to the pandemic, colleges nationally were experiencing an increase in demand for these services,” added Meredith Yuhas, Ph.D., CT State’s director of mental health and wellness, who was hired in 2022 to lead efforts in developing an equitable, consistent plan. “More than ever before, students are dealing with an array of challenges including coursework, relationships, economic pressures, social injustice, and pandemic losses.”
As part of the plan, CT State will also create a mental health and wellness peer education program, a graduate training program, provide employee training, and develop programs to support social connectedness and an inclusive sense of community.
With the help of more than $600,000 in grants awarded in 2021 from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, Manchester and Tunxis Community Colleges have created wellness centers. Others have been able to add part-time temporary positions to support students. In addition, all 12 colleges have been able to purchase mental health screening and referral platforms. They have also offered guest speakers, faculty training, workshops and educational materials for students on resiliency building, student coping and life skills.
Most of the colleges already offer other services for students aimed at helping them succeed including Veterans OASIS centers, tutoring, transportation passes, child care, access to scholarships, food pantries and student clubs and activities.