For Immediate Release: Senate Bringing College Mental Health to Focus

PRESS RELEASE
LEGISLATION SUPPORT ADVISORY

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2018

Contact: Heather Schroeder
(877) 569-MIND(6463)

Support of Bill To Improve Access To Mental Health Services in Higher Education

On June 23, 2018 The Student Mental Health Policy Alliance voted to support a Senate Bill by Bob Casey(D PA) aimed toward improving access to mental health services for students at college campuses across America. The Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act would establish a national commission focused on mental health conditions facing students at colleges and universities across the country.

Between 2010 and 2015, enrollment in colleges and universities increased by only 5 percent, yet the number of students using mental health services increased by 30 to 40 percent. Students seeking help are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engaged in self-harm, the same study found. More than 50 percent of students between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having a severe psychological problem or experiencing feelings of hopelessness. This bill would help address the lack of resources to support students with mental health issues.

Highly publicized campus suicides and research showing an alarming prevalence of mental illness on campuses have heightened the sense of urgency. The reality of rampant mental illness on campus shatters the notion of college as a carefree time when the biggest worries are passing finals and finding a date. For many students, dark shadows shroud the sheltered nest of academe.

More than 40 percent of US students become so depressed during their four years in college that they have trouble functioning, while 15 percent suffer clinical depression, according to a 2004 survey of 47,202 students by the American College Health Association. Suicide remains the second-leading cause of death among college students, claiming about 1,100 lives a year.

“Today, campuses are plagued with an unprecedented demand for counseling services,” said Jacob Griffin, a former on-campus advocate—disturbed by campus administrators’ lack of responsiveness in addressing these issues; pivotal to student success and retention. “It is not uncommon for a university counseling center to have a 6 to 8 week wait…with mental health—symptoms intensify quickly,” Griffin continued.
Jacob launched a national non-profit in 2016 strategically focused on helping campus counseling centers address the influx by lobbying campus leaders to increase staffing and budgetary allotments. He has said that budgets in nearly 95% of Public University centers’ in the past 10 years have not changed to match increases in enrollment numbers, let alone the increases in demand. His research has found 7 out of 10 Campus Counseling Center Directors have resigned or retired within the last several years; citing lack of administrative support and over-extension of resources as key factors.

Specialists in the field have long known that the onset of mental illness often comes during adolescence or early adulthood. Living away from home, often for the first time, compounds stress and anxiety. So, too, does pressure to succeed in an increasingly competitive climate on campus.

As the stigma of having a diagnosed mental illness subsides, demand for counseling will presumably continue to rise. Criticizing Millennials as seemingly less resilient is the most popular diatribe, but it shouldn’t be, Griffin emphasized. In fact, it undermines a decade’s worth of work by counselors, psychologists, and student advocates who have strived to not only bring mental health to the forefront of discussion, but to reassure students that there is no shame in struggling—that experiencing mental distress is actually common and not a sign of weakness. “The distinct proof of concept and need,” Griffin said, “is what compels me to continue to advocate: the fact that I’ve had boots-on-the-ground experience…having witnessed and experienced the adversity has led me to continue bringing awareness to these issues” The result of normalizing mental health in higher education is that peers, faculty and bystanders, have intentionally led sufferers to the centers that promise to help them. “There is absolutely,” Griffin, “a lack of follow-through on that commitment.”

About The Student Mental Health Policy Alliance
A subsidiary of the 501c3 charity: Griffin Ambitions Limited, The nations leading voice on increasing campus mental health services too improve the lives of millions of Students affected by mental illness. We are committed to advocating for campus support, while reviewing and improving current trends in college mental health and highlighting promising practices that contribute to student success. We employ various strategic approaches too improve mental wellbeing on campuses. We take an active role in identifying initiatives consistent with our priorities, seeking out Higher Education Institutions’ that can advance these initiatives and work alongside administrators and stakeholders. We aim to effect change at grassroots and systemic levels. Since Founder Jacob Griffin’s mental health advocacy beyond his campus began in 2015, we have distinctly established ourselves through dedication, commitment and an unceasing belief in our mission to strengthen and improve how college Counseling Centers address their influx. Through our united support for education, advocacy and awareness efforts, the Student Mental Health Policy Alliance is at the forefront of increasing campus provisions, and is a distinctly recognized force in urging new ideas and solutions to improve educational outcomes.

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Mental Health in Higher Education Starts With Griffin Ambitions and the Student Mental Health Policy Alliance

 

II

115TH CONGRESS

2D SESSION S. 3106

To authorize the Secretary of Education to establish an Advisory Commission

on Serving and Supporting Students with Mental Health Disabilities

in Institutions of Higher Education, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

JUNE 21, 2018

Mr. CASEY (for himself, Mr. KAINE, Mr. NELSON, Ms. HASSAN, Ms. SMITH,

Mr. BLUMENTHAL, and Ms. KLOBUCHAR) introduced the following bill;

which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education,

Labor, and Pensions

A BILL

To authorize the Secretary of Education to establish an

Advisory Commission on Serving and Supporting Students

with Mental Health Disabilities in Institutions of

Higher Education, and for other purposes.

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2

tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

3 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

4 This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Higher Education

5 Mental Health Act of 2018’’.

6 SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

7 (a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:

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1 (1) More than 75 percent of mental health con2

ditions begin before the age of 24.

3 (2) More than 25 percent of students between

4 the ages of 18 and 24 reported a mental health con5

cern.

6 (3) More than 50 percent of students between

7 the ages of 18 and 24 reported having a severe psy8

chological problem.

9 (4) More than 50 percent of students between

10 the ages of 18 and 24 reported feelings of hopeless11

ness.

12 (5) Higher education counseling centers are de13

voting more time to rapid-response treatment with

14 more than 25 percent of students who sought help

15 reporting they had intentionally hurt themselves.

16 (6) Over a 5-year period, counseling center uti17

lization increased by an average of 30 to 40 percent,

18 while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, forcing

19 institutions to stretch mental health services to more

20 students without increasing resources.

21 (b) PURPOSES.—The purposes of this Act are the fol22

lowing:

23 (1) To ensure States and institutions of higher

24 education are provided with accurate information on

25 the mental health concerns facing students.

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1 (2) To provide detailed recommendations that

2 institutions of higher education, States, and the

3 Federal Government can take to improve the mental

4 health services available to students and properly

5 treat the rising number of students with mental

6 health issues.

7 SEC. 3. ADVISORY COMMISSION ON SERVING AND SUP8

PORTING STUDENTS WITH MENTAL HEALTH

9 DISABILITIES IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER

10 EDUCATION.

11 (a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Education shall

12 establish a commission to be known as the Advisory Com13

mission on Serving and Supporting Students with Mental

14 Health Disabilities in Institutions of Higher Education

15 (referred to in this section as the ‘‘Commission’’).

16 (b) MEMBERSHIP.—

17 (1) TOTAL NUMBER OF MEMBERS.—The Com18

mission shall include not more than 19 members,

19 who shall be appointed by the Secretary of Edu20

cation in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3).

21 (2) MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION.—The

22 Commission shall include 1 representative from each

23 of the following:

24 (A) The Office of Postsecondary Education

25 of the Department of Education.

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1 (B) The Office of Special Education and

2 Rehabilitation Services of the Department of

3 Education.

4 (C) The Office of Civil Rights of the De5

partment of Education.

6 (D) The Office of Civil Rights of the De7

partment of Justice.

8 (E) The National Council on Disability.

9 (F) A membership association for adminis10

trative and personnel professionals focused on

11 creating an inclusive higher education environ12

ment for individuals with disabilities, as deter13

mined by the Secretary.

14 (G) An organization that represents the

15 Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with

16 Mental Illness program, as determined by the

17 Secretary.

18 (H) An organization operated by and rep19

resenting secondary and postsecondary edu20

cation students with mental health disabilities

21 advocating for mental health services and sui22

cide prevention, as determined by the Secretary.

23 (3) ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF THE COMMIS24

SION.—In addition to the members included under

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1 paragraph (2), the Commission shall include the fol2

lowing:

3 (A) Four members from leadership of in4

stitutions of higher education who have dem5

onstrated experience in successfully supporting

6 the retention and graduation of students with

7 mental health disabilities. With respect to such

8 4 members, 1 member shall be a staff member

9 of a 2-year degree-granting institution of higher

10 education, 1 member shall be a staff member

11 from a 4-year degree granting institution of

12 higher education, 1 member shall be a member

13 of campus law enforcement, and 1 member

14 shall serve as a general counsel. Such 4 mem15

bers shall represent institutions of differing

16 sizes.

17 (B) Three members from family members

18 of individuals who are—

19 (i) enrolled in an institution of higher

20 education on the date such family member

21 is appointed to the Commission; or

22 (ii) former students with a mental

23 health disability.

24 (C) Four members from individuals with

25 mental health disabilities, including not less

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1 than 2 individuals enrolled in an institution of

2 higher education on the date of appointment to

3 the Commission. Any remaining member shall

4 be an individual with a mental health disability

5 who has attended an institution of higher edu6

cation.

7 (4) TIMING.—The Secretary of Education shall

8 establish the Commission and appoint the members

9 of the Commission not later than 60 days after the

10 date of enactment of this Act.

11 (c) CHAIRPERSON AND VICE CHAIRPERSON.—The

12 Commission shall select a chairperson and vice chair13

person from among the members of the Commission. Ei14

ther the chairperson or the vice chairperson shall be a stu15

dent or former student with a mental health disability.

16 (d) MEETINGS.—

17 (1) IN GENERAL.—The Commission shall meet

18 at the call of the chairperson, but not more often

19 than 8 times.

20 (2) FIRST MEETING.—Not later than 60 days

21 after the appointment of the members of the Com22

mission under subsection (b), the Commission shall

23 hold the Commission’s first meeting.

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1 (e) DUTIES.—The Commission shall conduct a study

2 and prepare a report for the Secretary of Education that

3 includes the following:

4 (1) Findings from stakeholders, including

5 through solicitation of public testimony, related to

6 the challenges faced by students with mental health

7 disabilities in institutions of higher education, in8

cluding—

9 (A) the services available to students with

10 mental health disabilities in institutions of high11

er education and their effectiveness in sup12

porting these students;

13 (B) the impact of policies and procedures

14 that help or hinder the goal of providing equal

15 opportunity for students with mental health dis16

abilities, such as reasonable accommodation

17 policies, mandatory and voluntary leave policies,

18 and disciplinary policies;

19 (C) the use of protected health information

20 of students with mental health disabilities by

21 institutions of higher education, including the

22 extent to which campus-based mental health

23 providers share this information with college or

24 university officials without student consent; and

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1 (D) the impact of providing mental health

2 services on a student’s academic performance,

3 well-being, and ability to complete college.

4 (2) Conclusions on the major challenges facing

5 students with mental health disabilities in institu6

tions of higher education.

7 (3) Recommendations to improve the overall

8 education, and retention and graduation, of students

9 with mental health disabilities in institutions of

10 higher education, with the goal of helping these stu11

dents access educational opportunities equal to those

12 of their non-disabled peers.

13 (f) COMMISSION PERSONNEL MATTERS.—

14 (1) TRAVEL EXPENSES.—The members of the

15 Commission shall not receive compensation for the

16 performance of services for the Commission, but

17 shall be allowed reasonable travel expenses, including

18 per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized

19 for employees of agencies under subchapter I of

20 chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while

21 away from their homes or regular places of business

22 in the performance of services for the Commission.

23 Notwithstanding section 1342 of title 31, United

24 States Code, the Secretary of Education may accept

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1 the voluntary and uncompensated services of mem2

bers of the Commission.

3 (2) STAFF.—The Secretary of Education may

4 designate such personnel as may be necessary to en5

able the Commission to perform its duties.

6 (3) DETAIL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES.—

7 Any Federal Government employee, with the ap8

proval of the head of the appropriate Federal agen9

cy, may be detailed to the Commission without reim10

bursement, and such detail shall be without inter11

ruption of loss of civil service status or privilege.

12 (4) FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT, AND SERVICES.—

13 The Secretary of Education shall make available to

14 the Commission, under such arrangements as may

15 be appropriate, necessary equipment, supplies, and

16 services.

17 (g) REPORTS.—

18 (1) INTERIM AND FINAL REPORTS.—The Com19

mission shall prepare and submit to the Secretary of

20 Education, as well as the Committee on Health,

21 Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and

22 the Committee on Education and the Workforce of

23 the House of Representatives—

24 (A) an interim report that summarizes the

25 progress of the Commission, along with any in-

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1 terim findings, conclusions, and recommenda2

tion as described in subsection (e); and

3 (B) a final report that states final find4

ings, conclusions, and recommendations as de5

scribed in subsection (e).

6 (2) PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION.—The re7

ports described in paragraph (1) shall be prepared

8 and submitted—

9 (A) in the case of the interim report, not

10 later than 1 year after the date on which all the

11 members of the Commission are appointed; and

12 (B) in the case of the final report, not

13 later than 2 years after the date on which all

14 the members of the Commission are appointed.

15 (h) TERMINATION.—The Commission shall terminate

16 on the day after the date on which the Commission sub17

mits the final report under subsection (g).

Æ

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