MHANYS CONVENES A COLLEGE MENTAL HEALTH AND HIGHER EDUCATION SUMMIT AT SIENA COLLEGE
Statewide mental health advocacy organization and Siena College gather state representatives, college and mental health associations, and Capital District area colleges and universities to confront a growing mental health crisis on New York’s college campuses.
ALBANY, N.Y.; Oct. 12, 2022 — The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) is convening a summit to raise awareness about a college mental health crisis that experts say has been growing for years and has been worsened by the COVID pandemic. The event will bring together statewide college associations, mental health advocates, state officials, national experts and area colleges. Organizers of the event hope the Summit will lead to the development of a shared public policy framework for supporting the mental health needs of college and university students and staff.
The Summit is will be held on Friday, October 14 from 10AM to 2PM at Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211, in the Sarazen Student Union, first floor, in Maloney Great Room, 240.
A study conducted by the Healthy Minds Network, one of the nation’s premier research organizations contributing to adolescent and young adult mental health, showed that approximately 60 percent of students in the study met the diagnostic criteria for one or more mental health conditions during the 2020/21 academic year, a nearly 50 percent increase since 2013. This and similar trends have college presidents troubled. A survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed, found that over 90 percent of presidents reported being very or somewhat concerned about student mental health during the COVID-19 crisis, making it their top concern. The American Council on Higher Education found that over 66 percent of all presidents are reporting an increase in the utilization of mental health services due to COVID-19.
MHANYS believes it’s time to elevate the conversation about college mental health among key stakeholders and policy makers. “The mental health crisis on college campuses has long been a pervasive issue, and it has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MHANYS CEO Glenn Liebman. “the Summit will draw attention to the crisis and help make clear that more needs to be
done at the state level to address this mounting problem affecting both public and private colleges and universities. Bringing together stakeholders from mental health and higher education is truly historic. Our hope is that the Summit will mark the beginning of a collaborative approach to solving this problem”
Siena College, who will be hosting the event, is one of several Capital District area colleges participating in the Summit. According to Margaret E. Madden, Provost and Senior Vice President at Siena College, “Colleges in New York state and across the country are seeing an increase in mental health issues affecting their students’ well-being and academic success. It is crucial that higher education administrators join together with representatives from state health and education agencies as well as legislators to explore public policy solutions to address this crisis. Siena College is proud to host this important summit in conjunction with the Mental Health Association in New York State. Like all colleges, we have seen the impact of the mental health challenges facing today’s students. Together, we can work toward practical and caring policies to solve them”
The Summit represents one of several “next-steps” recommendations put forth in a white paper that MHANYS released in February, 2022. The report studied the history of mental health in higher education and examined the crisis on today’s campuses. It reviewed research to determine the state of the crisis and its impact on students and the growing demand for mental health services. In addition to assessing the response on college campuses, the study evaluated the broader public response, focusing on actions taken by the media, courts, advocates and legislatures. These findings were then analyzed against the exacerbating impact of COVID-19 on mental health. “The college experience should be one of opportunity, academic pursuit and personal growth, not an overwhelming strain on the mental wellness of young people,” said John Richter, MHANYS Director of Public Policy and the lead author of the white paper. “We have worked hard at the elementary and secondary level to ensure resources are available for mental health literacy and for enhancing school mental health and wellness, and we hope to continue our efforts as young people enter the next phase of their life. We look forward to working with lawmakers, students and other higher education stakeholders to determine the right path for New York to address this very real crisis.”
Summit organizers hope to draw the attention of state lawmakers and to provide them with potential strategies and interventions for responding to the college mental health crisis. Several legislators are participating in the Summit, including State Assembly member Deborah J. Glick, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. In anticipation of the Summit the Assemblymember commented that “As young and not so young adults navigate the challenges of earning a degree, our higher education institutions must be prepared and equipped to care for their mental well-being. Unfortunately, not all of our college students are receiving the support they require and our mental health professionals are struggling to meet the high demand for assistance. Students’ feelings of isolation and uncertainty have only grown worse throughout the pandemic. I am thankful for MHANYS and Siena College for hosting this summit and I look forward to working with mental health professionals, higher education officials, and my colleagues in government to find ways to improve access and quality of care for our students”.
Assemblymember Glick’s counterpart in the State Senate, Toby Ann Stavisky, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, is also supportive of the Summit. “As we enter the post-COVID world, we are finding ourselves facing unprecedented challenges. The effects of the pandemic, from isolation to financial hardship and the loss of loved ones will be lasting. With the pressures of social media also weighing heavily on many of our students, access to mental health services on our college campuses is as critical as ever. While we increased funding in the 2022-23 budget, that was just a start. Much more needs to be done. I want to thank MHANYS for organizing this summit and continuing to push for a coordinated effort in mental health support on New York’s college and
About Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) is a nonprofit organization that works to end the stigma against mental illness and promotes mental health wellness in New York State. MHANYS achieves this through training, education, advocacy and policy, community-based partnership programming, and by connecting individuals and families to help. Following its successful efforts to secure approval of a first-in-nation law requiring mental health instruction in schools, MHANYS established the School Mental Health Resource & Training Center to facilitate effective implementation of the new law. Across the state, MHANYS has 26 regional MHA affiliates that are active in 50 counties. For more information, visit https://mhanys.org/.
About Siena College
Siena College is a private, co-educational liberal arts college in the Franciscan and Catholic tradition. Siena is committed to offering the Education for a Lifetime for a new generation of leaders eager to create a more just, peaceful and humane world. Founded in 1937, Siena offers more than 40 majors, 80-plus minors and certificates, and prestigious joint-degree programs in liberal arts, science and business. A wide range of student activities join with immersive service learning, research opportunities, extensive study abroad options and an NCAA Division I athletic program in providing more than 3,400 students the opportunity to prepare for a lifetime of making a difference.
The Mental Health Association in New York State