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Mental Health America (MHA) is pleased to release Beyond Awareness: Student-led Innovation in Campus Mental Health, a report showcasing student-led programs that are filling gaps in traditional mental health services and supports on campuses across the United States. By highlighting the work of specific student leaders in mental health around the country, the report focuses on what is important to students and provides summaries and guides to programs that student advocates can bring to their colleges and universities.

The report uses feedback from 12 college students and recent graduates who were selected as members of MHA’s first-ever Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council (CMHIC). CMHIC is dedicated to promoting and expanding the work of student-leaders who have found creative ways to support their peers.

The major highlights of the report include: 

  • For more comprehensive disability supports, student leaders can create education-based programs and skill-building supports for their peers, and students or faculty can lead courses for academic credit to allow students to prioritize their wellbeing. Students can also serve as navigators for the often confusing and challenging process of obtaining accommodations.
  • Peer support is a critical part of engaging more students, providing support outside of hours spent in treatment, creating community, shifting demand from counseling services, and offering low to no cost options for students looking for help.
  • Technology can help students connect to existing professionals, support one another, and share information on wellbeing.

“The increased demand for mental health supports on campus makes it clear that we need to be creative in meeting the needs of students,” said Kelly Davis, Director of Peer Advocacy, Supports, and Services at Mental Health America. “Ideas and leadership from students are essential in creating communities where they can thrive.”

When student mental health is ignored, there are often devastating consequences - from students dropping out of school to suicide. Comprehensively supporting students at this time not only keeps them engaged and well on campus but can also set them up for success as they transition into the workforce.

“The good news is that many more students are reaching out for support and talking about mental health than ever before,” concluded Davis. “Encouraging student leadership and expanding resources that students feel can have the biggest impact are key. If we want to make a difference, we must go beyond traditional assumptions about students need.”