Mental health concerns among college students have become a critical issue, affecting the well-being of individuals, and posing potential liability risks for educational institutions.


According to an article by Risk & Insurance Content Strategist Autumn Demberger, Gen Z is grappling with high rates of anxiety and depression, making mental health an important topic for educators and insurers alike. Stressors such as student debt, societal issues, and academic pressure amplify the need for comprehensive mental health care, which has already intensified because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demberger writes: 'Mental health in higher education can lead to liability risk for institutions if it remains unaddressed. But there is buy-in to do more for students from all stakeholders, including insurance.'


The aftereffects of the pandemic have caused a surge in demand

The impact of the pandemic on college student's mental health is significant, creating a surge in demand for mental health services while capacity remains constrained. Though telehealth emerged as an option, its adoption has been initially limited. Heightened awareness of the strategic importance of student mental health prompted universities and colleges to rethink their approaches, seeking better quality of care and increased student access.

Recent surveys show a growing interest and commitment among higher education decision-makers to prioritize mental health. The 2021 American Council of Education survey highlights that college presidents most frequently cite students' mental health as the most pressing issue they face.


Student health insurance now offers a holistic approach to care

Universities and colleges actively address mental health through student health insurance plans, integrating various health and wellness services into a holistic platform. Services include on-site counselors, nutritionists, healthcare services, psychiatrists, 24/7 care, and digital tools like internet-based cognitive behavioral health and stress/meditation apps. Despite the expansion of services, however, there's a challenge in communicating the availability of these new resources and ensuring that students use them.

According to Demberger, communication, implementation, and partnerships are crucial elements for expanding the reach of mental health resources on campuses. Institutions employ wellness apps to bridge communication gaps and train administrators, faculty, and staff on program offerings. Implementation, however, requires strategic planning beyond just communicating the programs' benefits. The financial strain on universities, worsened by the fact that the mental health crisis also affects enrollment, is requiring institutions to seek alternative funding sources, like partnerships with external organizations.


Collaborative partnerships with trusted organizations play an essential role

It is vital to collaborate with not-for-profit organizations like the JED Foundation and insurance providers to finance and deliver critical mental health services. Insurance professionals are actively involved in addressing liability risks associated with mental health by offering risk management resources to develop intervention teams, guide policies and procedures, and support education-related components.

While progress is being made, properly addressing mental health in higher education also means recognizing the diversity of student experiences. Different demographic groups and academic majors experience stressors differently, emphasizing the need for customized solutions.


It's important to tailor mental health programs to students' needs

Comprehensive mental health care in higher education involves effective communication, strategic implementation, and successful partnerships. As colleges and universities continue to navigate the changing landscape, it's crucial to adopt a personalized, inclusive approach to addressing the diverse mental health needs of the student population


Contact a Student Healthcare Expert

Our Student Insurance division provides comprehensive insurance and risk management solutions. Contact a student healthcare expert at 800-367-5830.


Youth Insurance Agency, Inc. DBA Student Insurance | CA License 0386216

About Student Insurance

Youth Insurance Agency, Inc. ("Student Insurance") is one of California's largest insurers of primary and secondary schools providing health, accident, and student insurance plans to k-12 schools and colleges. For the past 70 years, our plans have focused on health and protection services to help domestic and international students, student-athletes, individuals, families, and educators navigate the complex healthcare system and improve their quality of life.


Student Insurance is a division of Venbrook Insurance Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Venbrook Group, LLC. Find out more

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