California Colleges Bolstering Student Mental Health Interventions
California colleges increasingly are encouraging faculty to intervene when students show signs of mental health issues, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Times, the efforts come as:
- Students report unprecedented levels of stress; and
- Schools report longer wait times for counseling.
For example, a 2013 RAND Corporation survey of University of California, California State University and state community colleges found that 19% of students had reported psychological distress within 30 days before the poll, compared with a rate of 3.5% among the general population. The survey also found that 43% of UC faculty, 59% of CSU faculty and 71% of community college faculty reported discussing mental health issues with students at least once in the previous six months.
Details of Intervention Efforts
According to the Times, professors are being instructed to refer students to counseling services when they notice signs of distress. In extreme cases, such as when they suspect a student could cause harm to themselves or others, professors are being told to contact campus police.
In addition, some campuses have adopted tools to help faculty identify common mental health situations among students and ways to respond to them.
For example, UC developed a reference guide -- called Red Folder -- that also is being adopted by CSU and many community colleges. The basic protocols are the same, while contacts and resources are individualized by campus, the Times reports.
Ana Aguayo-Bryant, assistant director of student health and wellness at CSU, said, "As a system of 23 campuses we're very diverse, but we wanted to have something that would have a common look," adding, "No matter what campus a counselor or staff member goes to, this will be something recognizable and familiar" (Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 11/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.