The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) will be channeling $1.5 million in federal relief funds to improve mental health services for college students across the state in response to the increased stress and uncertainty wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A press release by the CPE revealed how the multi-tiered initiative includes over $900,000 in grants to expand mental health programs, and two state contracts for training campus personnel and providing web-based interventions for students.
CPE has also approached campus leaders to collaborate on ways they could accumulate funding and staffing.
Pandemic Impact on College Students
In the CPE statement, Governor Andy Beshear highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young college students.
“Our students have sacrificed so much to ensure their safety and protect others in their communities. We need to show up for them now to make sure they have the support they need to come out of this crisis safely – physically and mentally,” he explained.
“Campus resources are central to that goal. I want to thank CPE and all of our campuses for their leadership in this area, and for their commitment to safeguarding our students’ health.”
The funding is from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which was also used last year to help colleges and universities respond to the pandemic.
Mental Health Stigma Persists
Despite progress in recognizing and accepting mental health issues, young adults continue to have difficulties finding the help that they need. In 2019, a study by the teletherapy tech company META found that college students are hesitant to seek mental health care due to the stigma attached to it.
In the same year, parents also expressed concern about how mental health issues are being treated on college campuses in a separate study by the Marie Christie Foundation.
Two years later, there is clear evidence that mental health issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic, as found in a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The survey found that out of 195 students interviewed, 71 percent indicated that they have experienced increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak.