With the recent suicide of a freshman and increasing reports of mental health symptoms among students on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dartmouth College has decided to boost its mental health services. Since August, the college has hired four counselors, while the school is now looking for an additional two counseling staff members.

The expansion is not a direct response to the pandemic but rather a manifestation of the efforts of the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative launched in January 2019, according to Dean Kathryn Lively. However, the pandemic has shown the initiative to be increasingly necessary.

With students forced to adjust to remote learning, cases of loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression have been rapidly increasing. Students find themselves constantly having to deal with mental health issues alongside their coursework.

A Heavy Loss

Dartmouth suffered a tragic loss when freshman Beau DuBray committed suicide at the end of the fall term. His death triggered a discourse between concerned parents and alumni regarding the psychological wellbeing of students.

This further fueled the college’s desire to offer stronger mental health support to its academic community. “We’re really going to be doing as much outreach as we can because [DuBray’s death] was the one thing I had hoped I would never have to face as a dean, and I never want to face it again,” Lively said at the time.

In addition to expanding mental health efforts, Dartmouth plans to lessen restrictions on-campus, specifically on social gatherings, to increase opportunities for socialization and ease some of the isolation felt among members of the college community.