Chancellor Malatras Announces $24 Million in Student Mental Health and Wellness Services—The Largest Single Investment in Mental Health in SUNY History

July 23, 2021

Federal Stimulus Funding Will Include Training Additional Student-Facing Residential Staff to Identify Warning Signs; Expanding SUNY Crisis Text Line, Creating and Expanding Peer-to-Peer Hotlines, and Campus Student Counseling Networks; and Creating Safe Spaces

New Funding on Top of $35 Million in Investments by Campuses Brings the Total Financial Support for Mental Health Resources to $59 Million for the 2021-2022 Academic Year

Builds on SUNY’s Expansion of Mental Health and Wellness Services from Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 to Ensure All Students Have Access to Mental Health Support

Photos Available from Today's Announcement Here


Brockport, NY
– State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced a historic investment in student mental health services today, on the heels of a once-in-a-generation health crisis that is still producing alarming rates of depression, anxiety, and social isolation among students. Leveraging the institutional grants received through the federal American Rescue Plan, Chancellor Malatras has directed all SUNY colleges and universities to utilize five percent of their respective grants—$24 million of approximately $481 million in institutional funding system-wide—to expand and enhance student mental health services. New York State Division of Budget approved the plan. The funding will be used for expanding programs such as training additional student-facing residential staff to aid in identifying warning signs and how to refer students to services; expanding SUNY’s Crisis Text Line, Peer-to-Peer hotlines, and campus student counseling networks; and creating safe spaces for students.

The new one-time funding is in addition to $35 million in investments by campuses, which brings the total financial support in mental health resources to $59 million for the 2021-2022 academic year. The timing for the investment coincides with reports of escalating mental health issues. According to Active Minds, 39 percent of students in college experience significant mental health issues, and CDC survey results show the rates of college-age adults (ages 18-24) contemplating suicide has also increased. In 2018, one in 10 college-age adults nationally contemplated suicide, and during the first wave of the pandemic, that grew to one in four college-age adults nationally this past June.

The allocation marks the largest single concerted investment in student mental health services in SUNY history, and will connect more students to the customized help they need—where and when they need it—to build a culture of early intervention and eliminate the stigma associated with seeking help. Through Chancellor Malatras’ directive, campuses will prioritize making foundational investments in comprehensive mental health policies and programs that will inform and enable their current and future expansion needs. Strategic use of this limited resource can also be used by campuses to build partnerships that leverage community and external stakeholders.

The funding builds on SUNY’s expansion of mental health and wellness services announced in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, including the Student Mental Health Peer Advocates Training Program; Thriving Campus; Tele-Counseling Services; the #ReachOutSUNY social media campaign; the Question, Persuade, Refer training program; or expansion of professional services. These resources combined ensure all students have access to mental health support at all times, cut wait times for in-person counseling, and train students to know the signs and offer support to a student in need.

Last month, SUNY’s Student Mental Health and Wellness Task Force made its final recommendations to the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Malatras, which included the need to seek and leverage external funding, resources, and partnerships to further expand mental health and wellness services. The SUNY Board of Trustees adopted the findings as official SUNY policy. Today’s announcement is the first action following the recommendations.

"Our students are dealing with a once in a lifetime health crisis—first from the fear of the unknown and being away from family and friends, and now as we readjust to being in-person again—and coupled with the normal pressures of college, it is affecting their wellbeing at a higher rate," said Chancellor Malatras. "We can’t expect students to thrive if we can’t be there for them in their time of need. Our students are demanding additional services and we hear them. With the support of Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Congressman Morelle, and our congressional delegation, as well as Governor Cuomo and the state legislature for expanding our services to students within the state budget, we are providing the help and the tools our students need now to succeed. And we know there is more work to do. There is no one cover-all solution. Mental health needs are very individualized and must be treated on a case-by-case basis—but we will use this investment to foster a culture where people are trained to come from a place of compassion and armed with the most up-to-date information regarding mental health issues and healthcare."

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said, "Throughout the pandemic, many Americans have been faced with two health crises, both the physical health concerns of COVID-19 and the mental health crisis that accompanied it. College students in particular have been forced to endure these twin health crises, making it vital that they receive the support they need. That’s why I worked hard to secure funding in the American Rescue Plan to equip colleges and universities with the resources needed to guide our students through this mental health crisis. I applaud SUNY for using these funds to prioritize the mental health of our students and I know these efforts will make an immeasurable impact on many across the SUNY system."

U.S. Congressman Joe Morelle said, "The challenges and uncertainty of navigating a pandemic have further exacerbated the mental health crisis across America, especially for college-aged students. Everyone deserves access to the support they need, which is why I’m so proud to have secured funds through the American Rescue Plan for this transformative expansion of mental health services across the SUNY system. I’m grateful to Chancellor Malatras for his partnership and look forward to our continued work together to end the stigma around mental health, improve support services, and uplift the lives of students and their families."

SUNY Board Trustee Eunice A. Lewin said, "The pandemic has further highlighted how great of a need there is to bolster mental health services and supports for our students, and the time to act is now. Today’s announcement underscores SUNY’s commitment to making mental health and wellbeing a priority across our system, and we are very thankful to our elected officials for helping us secure this much needed funding. As we look forward to the fall semester with our students returning to campus, we know this will be an exciting time in their lives, but it may also bring about anxieties as we all readjust to being back in person—being able to expand our mental health resources through increased financial support will aid our campuses in welcoming students back and being there for them during their time of need."

New York State Senator and Chair of Committee on Mental Health Samra Brouk said, "For young people, the pandemic has taken up such a large portion of their lives. They have been isolated, relying on screens for social connection, and have missed many high school and college milestones that they have spent years looking forward to. Parents, educators, mentors, and representatives have an obligation to ensure that students have the resources and tools they need to adapt, cope, and process their pandemic experiences. As Chair of the New York Senate Committee on Mental Health, I’m grateful to my partners in government, and both Congressman Morelle and Chancellor Malatras, for securing these funds and making student mental health a priority."

New York State Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a strain on every aspect of our lives, especially for students who have had their educational pursuits upended. Our SUNY system is a progressive leader in creating opportunities for all New Yorkers. Accessible mental health care and support services for all students, especially those who are struggling during this difficult time, are critical social justice and equity issues that are very important to me. Thank you to Senator Schumer and Congressman Morelle for delivering funding that will support the wellbeing and success of our college and university students, and thank you Chancellor Malatras for your ongoing leadership."

SUNY Oswego President and Co-Chair of SUNY’s Mental Health and Wellness Task Force Deborah F. Stanley said, "Prior to the pandemic, we convened a Mental Health and Wellness Task Force at SUNY with Trustee Eunice Lewin leading the charge—we were aware of how deeply mental health issues were affecting our students and their ability to live and learn, and wanted to eradicate these issues as soon as possible. We know that deep learning happens when there are fewer barriers to understanding, feeling close to others, and having the freedom to be safe and secure in a comfortable environment. When our students are plagued with mental health and wellness issues, that’s not possible, so we looked to SUNY’s many mental health and wellness professionals to guide us on what we need to do for our students. With this historic funding, we’re getting the chance to make these recommendations a priority, and turning them into tangible results for our students so they can grow and blossom. At SUNY, we’re setting a mark for the country, investing more than almost anywhere else in the United States—I want to thank Senator Schumer, Congressman Morelle, Chancellor Malatras, and all those involved in the Task Force for their tireless advocacy and support."

SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson said, "We know that students with mental health needs require additional support to be successful, and we’re working to make sure that all students have access to the support they need. Over the past four years, our counseling center averaged more than 3,660 visits per year. And tellingly, last year we saw an increase in visits even though fewer students were living on campus due to COVID-19. At SUNY Brockport, we strive to improve the accessibility of mental health resources for our diverse student population and their ever-changing mental health needs. Doing more requires additional resources, and we are grateful that SUNY shares our commitment to this important work."

SUNY Brockport Student Government President Justin Crawford said, "I myself have used the services on campus to deal with depression and anxiety. The services helped but I wish appointments were more frequent and there was more of an opportunity to build a relationship with the counselor. We need to do more."

For more information about SUNY's mental health resources please visit https://www.suny.edu/mental-health/.

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, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. 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 are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than 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.


Share this:

       

 
Contact:
Holly Liapis
518-320-1311
Email the Office of Communications