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  • Basic Needs

    A growing number of college students are unable to afford the basic costs of daily living yet this issue is just beginning to get the attention it deserves from administrators and policymakers. A 2020 Wisconsin Hope Lab report found that over a third of college students were food insecure in the previous 30 days. Many undergraduate students are unfortunately ineligible to qualify for government assistance or relief provided for low-income adults.

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    College Affordability

    Millions of young adults and their families experience difficulty in paying for a college degree and Financial worry is repeatedly cited as a lead cause of stress among college students. Over 44 million Americans now owe over $1.71 trillion in student loan debt.  With more employers now requiring a college degree for employment, federal and state policymakers are increasingly considering and implementing strategies to decrease or cancel student debt and  advance college affordability, especially for public education.

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    Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Welcoming and inclusive campus environments are critical to all student’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.  A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming will also help improve access to higher education for students from historically marginalized groups. When colleges and universities prioritize access and representation across race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, and age, it is a step forward in achieving social justice and creating inclusive environments.

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    Mental and Behavioral Health

    The number of young people reporting mental health issues has increased both on and off college campuses. This is likely due to a combination of factors including increased willingness to seek help driven by improved awareness and decreased stigma, improvements in psychopharmacology, and deteriorating mental wellbeing, including factors related to stress, such as academic or financial concerns. On college campuses, counseling centers are often overwhelmed by the demand for mental health services.

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    Physical Health

    Maintaining good physical health can improve the wellbeing and cognitive function of young adults. Having a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and physical exercise can promote healthy nutrition, daily functioning, and an improvement in performance. Common physical health issues for young adults, ages 15 to 24, include unhealthy eating, inadequate sleep, and a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

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    Sexual Assault and Title IX

    According to recent research, as many as 1 in 4 women on college campuses experience sexual assault.  Evidence indicates the critical need for colleges and universities to promote safe environments through sexual assault prevention programming, bystander training, and education on consent. The Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that protects people in education programs or activities receiving federal aid from discrimination based on sex.

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    Student Success

    Student success focuses on higher education access, student retention, and successful completion of college with strong correlations to mental health.  Re-enrollment and retention rates vary with race. Black students are significantly more likely to drop out or discontinue enrollment than white counterparts due to a number of socioeconomic and racial disparities. Low-income, first-generation students are nearly four times more likely than their peers to drop out after their first year.

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    Substance Use

    Underage drinking, binge drinking, marijuana use and non-medical use of prescription drugs remain significant problems on college campuses and are highly correlated with treated and untreated mental health.  High risk or binge drinking can lead to significant social, educational, and psychological consequences, as well as harmful physical events such as alcohol poisoning, neurological damage, and accidental death. It is frequently cited as a factor in sexual assault.

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    Mary Christie Quarterly provides news, information and commentary on the policy issues that impact the health and wellness of young adults.

    The McFeed is a weekly roundup of news and research on the health and wellness of college students.