The University of North Carolina (UNC) System will use its $5 million grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to expand its mental health services to enrollees at all 17 of its campuses.
The multimillion-dollar investment will provide more training to counselors and increase university resources to better support students, faculty, and staff.
“Many of our campuses have seen their counseling and outreach services strained to the breaking point, and I think it’s clear to all of us that we need a better approach to both helping students in need and creating a more supportive environment that addresses student mental health before it becomes a crisis,” UNC System President Peter Hans said.
According to the press release, potential investments include establishing electronic medical record systems at counseling centers, the development of a shared pool of psychiatric providers across the UNC System, and the implementation of a system-wide off-campus referral tracking system.
“The UNC System appreciates the Governor’s support to keep our students on track towards on-time graduation through completion grants and to address urgent mental health needs, especially for at-risk students,” Hans remarked.
Report on Student Mental Health
On May 26, the UNC System held a meeting to hear findings and recommendations concerning its student mental health initiative. The presenters reported that they saw a significant increase in the incidence of mental health challenges among students.
According to the report, eight in 10 students say their mental health has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 10 to 15 percent of college students also had serious thoughts of committing suicide within the past 12 months.
To address these findings, the presenters recommend providing sufficient staff and space to meet target levels of service. They highlighted the need for additional clinicians, practitioners, and social workers to help students.
Another recommendation presented during the meeting was to ensure that every mental health center has an electronic medical record system designed for student mental health services.