Chancellor Malatras Urges Students in Need to Connect with SUNY and New York State Mental Health Resources During the Holidays

November 25, 2020

Care is Available 24/7 Throughout the Holiday Season and While Students Remain Remote Until the Spring Semester May Begin

SUNY Continues #ReachOut Program to Build Awareness and Shatter the Stigma of Asking for Help

Albany, NY – As State University of New York students ready for what is expected to be a considerably different Thanksgiving holiday, Chancellor Jim Malatras urges students in need to connect with SUNY and New York State mental health resources during the holidays and as remote learning continues between now and the anticipated February 1st start of the spring semester.

Care will continue to be available 24/7 to all students whether remote or remaining on campus. SUNY colleges and universities, as required by Chancellor Malatras as part of the recent mandatory Thanksgiving exit testing, will provide housing, meals, and other comforts for all students on campus.

"Thanksgiving takes on new meaning this year as we focus on keeping each other safe during the pandemic, which may mean we don’t get to see friends and family as we would like," said Chancellor Malatras. "And students staying on campus could feel the absence of family even worse, which is why my team and I at SUNY system, along with our campus leadership, will make every effort to stay in contact with our students during the holiday and ensure they can feel at home within our SUNY family. The health and wellbeing of our SUNY students is at the forefront of our concerns as the fatigue and burden caused by the COVID health crisis sets in for many of us. While we are apart physically, our students should not feel the overwhelming sense of being alone—there is help available."

SUNY Board of Trustee Eunice Lewin said, "When we think of health and wellness, typically physical health comes to mind, but it’s also critical to provide mental health resources that are easily accessible for our students, especially during the stressful times we are living in that prevent us from seeing family and friends. My thanks to Chancellor Malatras for continuing to raise awareness of our resources to make sure students know they are not alone. It is normal to need help at any time, and particularly now."

SUNY Student Advocate Dr. John Graham said, "We continue to give undivided attention to the overall mental health and wellbeing of all of our students—regardless of where they are. As they continue their studies for the remainder of the semester remotely, we remind them that they have access to system, statewide, and a national suite of resources available at any point in time. It is our greatest expectation that our students know that the range and scope of our support for them extends well beyond the campus community."

SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley, who is co-chair of SUNY’s active Student Mental Health and Wellness Task Force, said, "We want to remind our students of the valuable mental health services that are still available to them on the break, when they are away from campus and during this challenging time as they navigate living and learning amidst a global pandemic. We remain focused on the health and wellbeing of all our students at SUNY Oswego and across the system, and are proud to work with the Chancellor and all of SUNY in providing a learning environment that emphasizes greater awareness, understanding, and access to mental health care resources."

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University President Wayne J. Riley, M.D., who is also co-chair of the task force, said, "This holiday season will be very different, and it is necessary to make adjustments for everyone’s health and safety. Based on public health guidelines, some of our students may not be able to travel home to loved ones they haven’t seen in some time, which can add to existing anxieties. We encourage them to access the support network through the ThrivingCampus app, where they can connect with local professionals for help. Taking care of our students’ mental health and wellbeing—particularly during a pandemic that may keep them away from loved ones—is critical to helping them know they are not alone."

SUNY announced expanded mental health resources earlier in the semester and launched the #ReachOutSUNY campaign to build awareness toward resources and take away the stigma associated with asking for help. SUNY and New York State mental health resources during the holiday and remote learning include:

ThrivingCampus: This is a web-based application that all students can use to connect to off-campus resources across the state and the nation; this can be as part of a referral process with a campus counseling center, or entirely on their own through provider directories created for each campus. Instead of a student having to search across multiple platforms, ThrivingCampus allows a student to browse, filter, and contact providers in one place. It also gives campus counseling centers the option to create custom referral lists for individual students who may need more support and to check in with students that have been referred to off-campus resources. The app is available to all current students at no cost through October 2021.

Student Tele-Counseling Hubs: First piloted in 2018 thanks to New York State funding, the Student Tele-Counseling Network (STCN) currently offers tele-counseling services to students at select campuses through Upstate Medical University and soon through SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.

The program connects students to a physician, psychologist, or nurse practitioner on a secure online platform. Those professionals help with a wide range of mental health issues, from anxiety to depression to eating disorders. These services are provided at a non-out-of-pocket cost.

Twelve campuses are currently participating, including, Binghamton University, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Morrisville, Nassau Community College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Oneonta, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and SUNY Potsdam. The program drastically reduces wait times for tele-counseling services.

Virtual Campus Counseling Centers: For SUNY campuses with counseling center services on-site, campuses will provide services by phone or by video tele-counseling.

Crisis Text Line: Staffed 24/7/365 by trained volunteers skilled in active listening, Crisis Text Line helps individuals in distress move from a hot moment to a cool calm. There is a New York-specific keyword for Crisis Text Line: SUNY participants can text "Got5U" to 741-741.

In addition to SUNY resources, New York and national resources include:

New York State COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline, Project Hope: Staffed by trained volunteers, Project Hope provides support to New Yorkers that are impacted by COVID-19, 8 AM to 10 PM, 7 days a week. The service is free, confidential, and anonymous. The hotline number is: 1-844-863-9314.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline: Domestic violence is much more than the physical abuse, and can also include emotional, psychological, financial and sexual abuse. The hotline number is 1-800-942-6906, English & Español/Multi-language Accessibility, or deaf or hard of hearing: 711. In New York City, individuals can call 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or dial 311TDD: 1-800-810-7444

Veterans Crisis Line: SUNY Veterans and others may find support through the Veterans crisis line. The hotline is 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and Press 1, text 838255, or chat at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat. For TTY users: use current preferred relay service or dial 711, then 1-800-273-8255.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. As of Fall 2019, more than 415,500 students were enrolled in a degree-granting program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide exceeded $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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