Inside Higher Ed covers the story of Yale University taking an unusual step to dispute a social media post regarding a first-year student, Rachael Shaw-Rosenbaum, who recently ended her own life. The post claimed that Yale informed Shaw-Rosenbaum that if she took a leave of absence, she would have to reapply for enrollment. The post also said that she was denied an appeal of the decision. Yale responded that the “allegations are unequivocally false … Rachael made no request for a leave of absence or withdrawal to her dean, nor to any other administrator in the college or Yale Health. Yale College would never deny anyone permission to take time off to address a health concern; anyone who asks for that permission receives it. Students routinely take leaves and withdrawals and return to Yale when they are ready to resume their studies.” The news has renewed discussion about student mental health at Yale with students expressing disappointments over Yale’s mental health services and grievances with Yale’s medical leave policies in the Yale Daily News. Students report delayed wait times to schedule appointments and short counseling sessions due to the counseling center’s increasing demand. Students also expressed “frustration with the [medical leave] policies that they say can feel overly punitive, isolating and expensive.”
In a recent CNN article, experts and mental health advocates call on the Biden administration to prioritize youth mental health. Aware of the pandemic’s toll on young people’s mental health, the Biden transition team discussed young mental health with young leaders in mid-January over a zoom call. According to CNN, “On that call, Nia West-Bey, a senior policy analyst at the CLSP [Center for Law and Social Policy], stressed five areas the Biden administration could prioritize when it comes to mental health including telehealth, removing law enforcement from mental health calls, investments in community based care and investments across all areas where young people are.” The Biden administration has said it is taking action; the recent relief package includes increased funding for mental health services, including for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, youth suicide prevention and pediatric mental health care access.
WGBH reports a shortage of psychiatric beds and an increased demand for mental health services during COVID-19, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Mental health professionals and policy advocates state that long wait times for psychiatric beds is an ongoing issue that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic’s distance protocols. Matt Baskin for WGBH writes, “COVID-19 restrictions have forced facilities to limit rooms that would normally house at least two patients to one person only, drastically reducing the number of available beds.”
According to NYU News, student health services will now be removing its 10-session limit on counseling sessions this spring semester. The Student Government Assembly’s Health and Wellness Committee Chair, Gavin Arneson, said they have been working with Dr. Zoe Ragouzeos, the Executive Director of Wellness Services, “to bring this initiative and others like it to students to improve mental health resources at NYU in lieu of a traditional spring break.”
College athletes shared with ABC News the effects the pandemic has taken on their mental well-being and their success in their sport. Dr. Sarah Lipson, an assistant professor in the department of health law policy and management at the Boston University School of Public Health, said “For many student-athletes, their sport is a big part of their identity, their community on campus and their daily routine … It will be important to continue to understand the mental health of student athletes in both the short- and long-term and to promote help-seeking for mental health as needed.”
With a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., three private universities in Indiana – Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, DePauw University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College – are creating the MINDful College Connections consortium, which will improve access to mental health services, address best practices, and implement initiatives including training and preventive care.
This past Sunday, the tragic death of student Cory Gallinger at Le Moyne College ignited a campus-wide conversation about mental health, according to Syracuse.com. Approximately a thousand students, faculty, and administrations at Le Moyne organized a vigil where students held demonstrations calling for improved mental health services and signed an online petition calling for improvements.
Florida State University announced Thursday that it will make the Student Resiliency Project available across the country for other universities to use. The online tool helps students understand the issues they’re going through and how to resolve them
In an Op-Ed in The Daily Princetonian, student Emma Treadway discusses the recent devastating events of gun and anti-Asian violence compounding the state of loss during the pandemic and the Colorado and Atlanta shootings. Treadway announces that the student news publication’s five-day production schedule will be reduced to four to ease the burden.
Marking a year since the onset of the pandemic, WebMD Health News details the student mental health crisis that has accelerated in the past 12 months, reporting that anxiety and depression rates have increased 6.3% between April and December 2020. Mental health experts weigh in on their recommendations for providing support for students.
The University of Maryland’s Counseling Center announces a 12-initiative proposal to improve student accessibility to mental health care. On Tuesday, Dr. Chetan Joshi, the director of the University of Maryland’s counseling center, discussed the plan which aims to better support mental health and disability services. The proposal advocates for immediate drop-in consultations and 35-minute single therapy sessions to help more students get the support they need.
From Illinois to Boston, college students continue to express dismay at the limited time off provided by their colleges and universities this spring. Many say “Wellness Days” do not alleviate the stress and loneliness they’re experiencing. At Emerson College, the Faculty Assembly voted to approve the school’s two spring break alternatives: wellness passes, or one-time excused absences, and a “flexibility week,” which allowed professors to “reduce the pressure of assignments” by extending due dates and other class-specific solutions.