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Initiative Launched to Tackle Mental Health Issues Among Graduate Students

The Council of Graduate Schools is collaborating with a non-profit to prevent suicides and support mental health and wellness of masters degree and doctoral students.

The Council, which is an association of universities that grants master and doctoral degrees, joined JED Foundation’s “Supporting Mental Health and Wellness of Graduate Students” initiative that will help create evidence-based policies and resources to tackle mental health issues among students.

A recent survey by the American Council on Education found a rise in cases of mental health illness on campuses. Anxiety and depression are the top two mental health concerns across all sectors of education.

The 22-month project will also look at the unique needs and types of support required by graduate students to deal with mental health problems. The collaboration will specifically focus on underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities pursuing graduate education.

“Compared with the undergraduate education context, there has been relatively little attention to supporting the mental health and wellness of master’s and doctoral students,” said CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega. “This is a high-priority issue for CGS and the graduate education community more broadly.”

The council’s focus on issues specific to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields will be covered under a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, while the work in humanities will be supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“In our work with colleges and universities across the country, we hear time and again the increasing concern for graduate and professional students’ mental health and how best to support them,” said Nance Roy, Chief Clinical Officer at The Jed Foundation.

Between 2007 and 2017, the number of students seeking mental health treatment jumped from 19 to 34 percent and the number those with mental illness diagnoses rose from 22 to 36 percent.

Last month, Rutgers University joined The JED Foundation’s nationwide initiative to strengthen its mental health safety nets by evaluating its mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems.

The non-profit will provide the university with assessment tools, feedback reports, a strategic plan to strengthen the emotional health and well-being of students.

New Course Launched to Address Student Mental Health, Wellness

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