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Alexandria, VA — Mental Health America (MHA) is pleased to release Making Space for Mental Health on Campus, the 2nd annual report from MHA’s Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council (CMHIC) 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 college students and recent graduates who were selected as members of MHA’s CMHIC. CMHIC is dedicated to promoting and expanding the work of student-leaders who have found creative ways to support their peers. In addition to the report, MHA is also releasing video profiles of the CMHIC members.

The major highlights of the report include:

  • Expanding campus-based mental health resources should not rely on students finding traditional resources and services. With the leadership of students, mental health information and resources need to be tailored to and embedded in different communities on campus to best meet their needs.
  • Students continue to demand and create formal peer support programs, even with push-back from universities.
  • To make support accessible, resources need to be available 24/7 in-person, via phone, and across campus, including in living spaces.
  • Disability cultural centers create spaces where students with disabilities can connect with one another and celebrate disability culture and identity, as opposed to emphasizing disability as an impairment.

“Students continue to lead in creating mental health resources on campus that are responsive to the wants and needs of their peers,” said Kelly Davis, Director of Peer Advocacy, Supports, and Services at MHA. “Given the increasing demand for services among college students, working alongside students to identify creative solutions is key.”

When schools fail to act on the mental health and well-being of their students, they cause serious harm both in the short- and long-term for their students’ well-being, relationships, academics, and careers. During this critical life transition, students may struggle to get by, drop out of school, or experience other severe consequences. 

“Campus mental health supports should not be viewed as a luxury but as a critical part of ensuring campuses are accessible and students are set up to thrive on campus and in their lives,” concluded Davis. “If we want to change campus mental health, we need to go to those most familiar with the issues—the students themselves.”