SUNY Uses $24 Million in Federal American Rescue Plan Funds To Expand Student Mental Health and Wellness Services, Enhance Campus Resources

September 21, 2022

Largest Single Investment in SUNY Mental Health History Builds on $35 Million Annual Campus Investment to Support Students with After-Hours Care, Creation of Well-Being Spaces, and Emergency Mini-Grants

SUNY Builds Awareness of All Available Resources at All Campuses with New Mental Health Repository Available Here

Albany, NY – At a meeting of the State University of New York Board of Trustees today, senior leaders announced the use of $24 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand mental health and wellness services and enhance campus resources. Expanded on-campus programming includes: after-hours care, the creation of well-being spaces, the hiring of new staff, suicide prevention programming, emergency mini-grants to students who seek off-campus support, and broader training for counseling center staff, as well as other timely interventions.

Across the SUNY system, campuses are also focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to further bolster and improve overall student mental health. They're also making investments to strengthen peer to peer counseling opportunities and physical wellness programs—including group exercise—recognizing the mind-body connection to overall wellness. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Binghamton University is hiring an additional divisional diversity officer whose addition to the staff will allow for a greater focus in addressing student mental health concerns amongst diverse populations.
  • SUNY Potsdam is creating a Diversity Mindfulness Room in the campus' Center for Diversity, where BIPOC students will have access to resources and tools that can aid in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression and promote emotional- and self-regulation.
  • Farmingdale State College is organizing a de-stressing festival next spring and providing access to therapy dogs.
  • Jamestown Community College is entering into partnerships with Chautauqua County's Suicide Prevention Alliance, Department of Mental Hygiene, and the county's Mental Health Services to create events to broaden awareness of wellness services for students, families, and staff.

The expansion across SUNY comes after widespread reports of mental health concerns that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adults with symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4 percent to 41.5 percent from August 2020 to February 2021, with the most significant increases occurring among young adults aged 18-29 years old.

"The availability of the American Rescue Plan funding has allowed our campuses to be even more innovative and comprehensive in their approach to mental health and wellness services—hiring more experts to increase on-site counseling and creating opportunities to expand wellness and social activities," said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. "Our students continue to face mental health challenges, and they are looking to SUNY to provide them with accessible resources and supports to uplift their overall well-being. This one-time federal funding, coupled with ongoing New York State investment in mental health and wellness services, will ensure that these programs continue for each class of SUNY students."

SUNY Board Trustee Eunice A. Lewin said, "We consistently hear that our students are major advocates of mental health and wellness resources, often requesting more readily available services as they navigate their college careers. The programs supported by the $24 million in Federal American Rescue Plan funding will aid students in accessing the care they deserve and ultimately improve their college experience and overall well-being. Through funding and a commitment to bettering student resources, we further embrace the notion that mental health is health."

SUNY System Administration and its campuses have also worked collaboratively to build awareness of mental health and well-being services across each college and university through the newly launched SUNY Mental Health Repository, which is available here.

The awareness campaign includes promoting the repository and other SUNY-wide mental health services on social media through the month of September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Since the repository's soft launch in July, during which the resource was reviewed by SUNY students and other system stakeholders, the mental health resource finder has been accessed more than 1,100 times.

The repository is designed to increase accessibility and reduce feelings of information overload when searching for mental health services information—particularly during times of crisis. The free resource includes three tabs for users to explore: a list of all campus and New York county resources, a map feature including resource locations, and universal resources related to students who belong to underrepresented backgrounds and other affinity groups. Resources contained within the Universal Resources tab are tailored to specific experiences and challenges, so students avoid feeling underrepresented in mental health care. Resources are tailored toward specific groups, including student parents, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, military-affiliated students, people with disabilities, and student athletes—this tab also provides substance misuse resources.

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 amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-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.


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