The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't just taken a toll on some people's physical health, but mental health as well.
Among those who may have been particularly affected are people who have had to adjust their education to fit the pandemic.
That's why State University of New York (SUNY) colleges are now working provide assistance to anyone who needs it. Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the university system is investing $24 million in mental health and wellness services for students.
The money will be used to train residential staff to identify warning signs, expand the crisis text line and peer to peer hotlines and create safe spaces for students.
Malatras says it's the single biggest investment in student mental health in suny history.
“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,” Malatras said in a statement. “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.”
Students say it's an important step in destigmatizing mental health issues.
"When I was in undergrad, it was a big thing," SUNY Brockport graduate student Carey Barnette said. "It was hard to ask for help. Not a lot of people wanted to. You would go to your peers and be like, 'I want to ask for help but I don't know how.' And with having all of these resources and the big names backing us up is really encouraging. To know that it's not a bad thing to ask for help anymore, and it's not a scary thing anymore."
This money comes on top of a $35 million investment by SUNY campuses into mental health resources.