Supporting the mental health needs of community college students
Sontag-Padilla, L., Williams, D., Kosiewicz, H., Daugherty, L., Kane, H., Gripshover, S., & Miller, T.
The United States faces an unprecedented mental health crisis, with youth and young adults at the center. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 50 percent of college students reported at least one mental health concern. The COVID-19 pandemic notably exacerbated these issues and underscored the urgent need to identify and implement ways to ameliorate the youth mental health crisis. In 2021, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called on the field of higher education to address growing concerns about student mental health by identifying and elevating emerging and promising approaches that offer a more holistic way to support students' mental health. Serving as the main entry point for more than 40 percent of students seeking a postsecondary degree, community colleges represent a tremendous and untapped opportunity to better address mental health in the United States, particularly for students who have been traditionally underserved (e.g., students of color, first-generation students, and low-income students). However, community colleges have limited evidence and guidance to inform the implementation of multilevel, holistic approaches to support students with varying mental health needs. To address this knowledge gap, this report shares a descriptive study of eight community colleges at the forefront of implementing multilevel approaches (a combination of prevention, early intervention, and treatment services) to support student mental health, as well as key facilitators for and barriers to their success.