How HEERF and Similar Grants Support Student Mental Health

college grants for mental health
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Students are under tremendous pressure to keep up with lectures, prepare for exams, participate in extracurricular activities, and meet many other demands. While all these things are a part of college life, they do take their toll on mental health. Students are prone to stress, anxiety, and other problems that affect their academic performance and quality of life. Grants like HEERF can help support the mental health of students by providing the benefits of telehealth. Learn more below.

Mental health in college students

Back in 2013, one survey revealed the number of students with psychological problems is becoming a growing concern on campuses. The same study showed anxiety is the most common mental health problem among students, affecting 41.6% of them. Depression affected 36.4% of students whereas 35.8% experienced relationship problems.

A study from the June 2022 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders confirmed mental health among students is getting worse. Researchers evaluated how common are depression, anxiety, and other issues by looking at data from 350,000 students at 300 campuses collected by the Healthy Minds Network between 2013 and 2021. 

Results showed rates of depression among students in the United States increased by 135% during this period. Anxiety increased by 110%. The number of students that met the criteria for one or more mental health problems doubled in 2013.

Besides the growing prevalence of mental health problems in students, inequality regarding access to proper treatments is also a major problem.

HEERF overview

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) is focused on providing funding to address challenges in higher education created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In July 2022, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $198 million in HEERF grants to 244 colleges and universities. This is the last installment of almost $40 billion in relief funds that went to colleges and universities in the United States. 

Grants are usually allocated to educational institutions that have the greatest amount of unmet needs. Not only have students in those colleges or universities experienced a lot of difficulties during a pandemic, but they have also struggled with chronic funding inequities and underinvestment. 

Thanks to HEERF and other similar grants, students in those colleges and universities get much-needed resources to overcome challenges they face on a daily basis.

How HEERF supports mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of the worldwide population. Students also struggle with mental health difficulties that COVID-19 only aggravated or contributed to their onset. 

For that reason, the Department of Education strongly encourages education institutions that receive grants to address the mental health of staff and students. Although these grants are a one-time fund infusion, they can serve as a solid foundation for mental health projects that will help students now and in the long term.

Colleges and universities can use grants for mental health services to help students suffering from psychological problems. They can use these grants to help students whose mental health problems started before the pandemic too.

In a nutshell, education institutions can use the money they receive in grants to fund programs, treatments, and services that focus on mental health support. There are many ways to make that happen. The most common approaches include:

  • Hiring additional mental health counselors
  • Increase mental health and wellness support
  • Funding in-person mental health professionals
  • Investing in wellness activities
  • Making it easy for students to get mental health support through online platforms (telehealth)

Numerous options are available to institutions that want to help students improve their mental health. However, telehealth emerges as one of the most beneficial and practical ways to ensure all students receive much-needed support. 

Does telemedicine for mental health work?

Colleges and universities that receive HEERF and other grants should use their funds for telehealth platforms such as StudentBody.care because they can make a huge difference in providing mental health support to those who need it.

The benefits of telemedicine are scientifically proven. According to a paper from the Journal of Global Health, the greatest advantage of telemedicine is that it makes mental health services more accessible. For example, the StudentBody.care app or other platforms help patients avoid stigma surrounding mental health, and they get much-needed help and support from the comfort of their homes. Telemedicine can help with various mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and even substance-related disorders. Keep in mind that anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental health problems among students in the United States. During the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has proven to be effective in providing mental health support, the abovementioned paper reported.

One review of studies on this subject confirmed that there is substantial empirical evidence supporting the use of telehealth interventions in patients with mental health problems. The review showed telemedicine is associated with greater compliance and adherence to the therapy. This is particularly important if we bear in mind attending standard therapy sessions regularly can be difficult. Telemedicine makes it easier for patients, in this case, students, to stick to their treatment. Adhering to therapy and mental health services becomes even easier with the StudentBody.care app, because all they need is a phone and an internet connection. 

Well-known Yale Medicine published an interesting article on why telemedicine is working for mental health. The article emphasizes convenience as the biggest advantage of telemedicine for patients with mental health struggles. Telehealth is all about expanding access to care, which makes it easier for patients to attend their appointments or communicate with therapists on their lunch break or whenever they can. Easy access to mental health services minimizes transportation-related problems, which are more common than tech-related issues.

April 2022 issue of the journal Health Affairs published a retrospective analysis that found pandemic increased the use of telemedicine for mental health. The expansion of telemedicine is here to stay, the study confirms. Not only is it beneficial for people with mental health problems, but patient satisfaction with telemedicine is high.

Benefits of using grants for telemedicine and StudentBody.care

As seen above, a growing body of evidence confirms the use of telemedicine for mental health support. Universities and colleges that receive grants such as HEERF should focus on investing those funds in telemedicine platforms and apps such as StudentBody.care. Why? The main benefits of using grants for this purpose are listed below.

Accessibility

Thanks to telemedicine, students get easy access to mental health services. Otherwise, they would be deprived of proper psychological support. Accessibility of telemedicine isn’t just about adapting to busy students’ schedules. It’s also about simplifying the process of getting much-needed support for students that live in areas without adequate access to mental health services. 

Students who need mental health services most often don’t receive treatment and support due to a lack of resources, options, and other factors. Telemedicine platforms and StudentBody.care app make sure all students have the same access to mental health support. 

Saves time

College students have limited time on their hands. If they have to drive or take a bus, or other modes of transportation, to get the help they need, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Transportation is a major problem due to rising costs. Plus, it’s time-consuming. At that point, students realize they can’t keep up with mental health services and the ever-increasing college assignments at the same time. They sacrifice their mental health in favor of meeting deadlines or preparing for exams. 

Telemedicine allows colleges and universities to avoid these problems. It puts a focus on their mental health and takes away the challenges the students face just to get the help they need. With telemedicine apps and platforms, students don’t need to feel like it’s necessary to sacrifice academic performance just to feel better. 

Long-term benefits

Grants are a one-time financial infusion that colleges and universities receive. However, spending that money doesn’t have to produce short-term effects. Instead, telemedicine apps allow education institutions to achieve long-term benefits. They can also ensure that generations of students to come can still get mental health support. 

In other words, telemedicine tools such as StudentBody.care app allow colleges and universities to get the maximum from their grants. They serve as a good foundation for promoting mental health among students and ensuring they get the help they need. This also leads to better academic performance. 

Confidence

Although we live in the 21st century, there’s still a great deal of stigma surrounding mental health and people who need support to work on their problems. Stigma can be particularly overwhelming for students who have stressed out anyway. 

What’s more, stigma is also a reason many people never seek mental health support in the first place. They don’t want to be judged by others. For students, getting mental health support could be perceived as a sign of weakness. However, there’s nothing weak about this.  

Using grants for telemedicine boosts confidence among students. They get to receive much-needed help and support and feel great about it. Their newfound confidence serves as a motivation boost and encourages students to work on their mental health and focus on their wellbeing. 

No waiting and limitations 

Telemedicine apps and platforms minimize delays associated with waiting for an appointment. At the same time, it also removes all the limitations regarding mental health providers. Patients no longer have to stick to professionals that are in their areas. Nor do they have to spend too much time just waiting for their turn. Telehealth removes limits and gives students instant access to mental health support when they need it. Apps are particularly useful for this purpose.

Telehealth offers a seamless experience

Receiving a HEERF grant or other grants is a wonderful opportunity to improve access to mental health services for college or university students. While it may seem like a complicated task, telehealth offers a seamless experience. The platforms are easy to use and integrate with other data. Apps like StudentBody.care are even easier to use for all parties involved. 

To understand what makes apps the right choice, it’s necessary to get a closer look into their functioning. In a nutshell, apps are easy to integrate with electronic health records (EHRs). Thanks to the Google Chrome extension, health records always remain compliant with HIPAA and they are viewable across different EHRs. 

That way, it’s easier to schedule appointments. In addition to campus mental health providers, students can schedule an appointment with a non-campus provider. As a result, it’s easier for all students to get help and support. The waiting time is brought to a minimum.

The introduction of telehealth apps reduces overall costs and leads to better adoption. Students are more likely to stick to their treatment mainly because mental health support is where they find it most convenient – at their fingertips. They just need to download the app, install it, and everything they need is available right there. Since students spend a lot of their time on the phone, it’s important to introduce mental health services in a way that speaks to them the most. That’s exactly why HEERF and other grants should be used to introduce telemedicine support.

Better access to mental health services leads to improved retention in the program.

student in poor mental health
Top view of frustrated male student touching his head with hands and looking down while sitting at the outdoors staircase with books and backpack laying near him

What can colleges do to improve the mental health of students?

The first and most important thing a college or university can do is to introduce a telemedicine mental health app to their students and staff. Using grants is a practical way to ensure long-term benefits and results. In addition to telehealth, there are also other things that institutions can and should do to help students. Keep in mind that these strategies aren’t replacements for telemedicine apps. They include:

  • Seek feedback from students – mental health problems among students are common. Dealing with those problems is difficult without insight into the struggles, needs, and challenges the students face. Colleges and universities need to carry out a survey to gather information on problems students experience and what resources they need to resolve them, what kind of mental health support, etc.
  • Introduce mental health literacy – the main goal is to reduce negative perceptions of mental health. One way to achieve that is through free mental health courses. The courses could provide an introduction to common mental health problems and resources that are available to students.
  • Expand counseling services – a shortage of counseling services is a major problem. It prevents students from getting access to mental health services. Colleges and universities need more counselors and mental health professionals. This is yet another reason why telemedicine is crucial. A simple yet well-structured app allows a college or university to expand its services easily.
  • Host motivational speakers – students sometimes feel all alone in their struggles. However, they’re not. Hosting motivational speakers such as people who have struggled with mental health illnesses in college and overcame them can be of huge help. Students have the opportunity to understand they’re not alone, and they become motivated to work on their recovery. Besides motivational speakers, group therapies could also do the word
  • Support school-life balance – a great deal of stress and anxiety for students is the constant race with deadlines for all sorts of assignments. Students need flexibility. Colleges and universities should make sure their curriculum supports a school-life balance. As a result, students wouldn’t be overwhelmed and their mental health could improve.

Bottom line

Grants such as HEERF allow colleges and universities to help students who faced various challenges or inequalities in terms of financing. One way to get the most from these grants is to invest in telemedicine apps such as StudentBody.care. A growing body of evidence confirms the benefits of telehealth for the mental health of students. Telemedicine is effective, accessible, removes stigma, is easy to use, and provides a seamless experience to everyone involved. Using this app simplifies the process of getting mental health support among students who usually wouldn’t have access to it.

References 

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/06/college-students
https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2022/07/14/final-198-million-in-higher-education-emergency-relief-funds-allocated-to-244-colleges/?sh=44e561bc6433
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294826/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744872/
https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/telehealth-for-mental-health
https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01297?journalCode=hlthaff
https://www.waldenu.edu/programs/psychology/resource/five-benefits-of-telemental-health

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