More than half of college students relied on mental health care during their K12 years

The numbers are overwhelming, but they reveal progress as more students are taking the correct steps to improve their mental health before college.

Since the pandemic, teen mental health has reached unprecedented levels. In fact, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 3 high school girls in the U.S. have seriously considered suicide. These numbers speak to the overwhelming need to provide data-driven, equitable mental health resources in K12 and college campuses.

Nearly 60% of college students relied on mental health care in grades K through 12, according to a new survey from TimelyCare, a virtual health and well-being provider for college students. The findings point to “the mental health crisis in this demographic that has been brewing for some time,” according to a news release. Students cite the following contributing factors impacting their mental health:

  • Academic pressures
  • Finances
  • Basic needs
  • Societal issues (e.g. mass shootings and economic uncertainty)

In addition, more than three-fourths (77%) of current college students know someone who is experiencing mental health challenges.

The survey also comes at a time when the CDC and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have highlighted this growing issue over the past year in an effort to raise awareness and action around what’s been labeled a mental health crisis. However, the data also suggests that K12 students are taking the right steps to improve their mental health.

“While the numbers are overwhelming, it is critical to applaud America’s youth—and their trusted support systems—for taking the important first step of recognizing their need for professional therapeutic support and acting on it,” said Chief Care Officer for TimelyCare Bob Booth in a news release. “As students continue to seek mental health care and gain awareness of mental health issues earlier and earlier, we can expect a tidal wave of students entering college with unprecedented needs for support.”

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TimelyCare also provides some recommendations for colleges and universities on how to address student mental health that can also be applied to the K12 environment. Here are 10 steps to improve student mental health as an administrator:

  1. Normalize and destigmatize mental health support
  2. Factor in all students’ backgrounds and identities
  3. Understand that mental health is a basic and necessary need
  4. Address areas where there are shortages in mental health providers
  5. Tackle mental health as an entire system
  6. Advocate for your mental health staff
  7. Be intentional in reaching “silent sufferers”
  8. Encourage students to take the lead
  9. Champion student-athlete mental health
  10. Respond with a culture of caring
Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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