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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UVM chapter.

Colleges everywhere face a pressing issue on their campuses— the mental health of their students. Since the onset of COVID, the mental health of college-age students has taken a turn for the worse, with students of color experiencing these issues at drastic rates. For the safety and wellbeing of its students, universities everywhere need to be much more proactive in taking preventative mental health measures in order to support students who are struggling. 

There are a few key things to understand about mental health and mental health treatment. The first is that the mental health of college students is getting worse– and it’s not just a pandemic problem. According to a paper released by Boston University’s The Brink, a worldwide spike in mental health issues during the pandemic has not been an isolated incident, but a continuation of a trend among college-age students. The same paper raises the point that among college students with mental health issues, students of color are much more susceptible to such conditions. Studies such as this one published in The Brink should be a huge red flag to US colleges and universities that mental health is a pressing issue in its community.

The second important aspect to touch on is that early identification and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders is key. The National Library of Medicine cites a study on Bipolar Disorder which states that early intervention may lead to less reliance on pharmaceuticals and psychotherapy. If early intervention is the key– what can colleges do to implement preventative mental health support on campus?

A study published in the Journal of American College Health concluded that mindfulness programs may be an effective tool in aiding the transition to college for first-year students. The study notes that participating in a universal mindfulness program during the first year of college was associated with a greater quality of life, as well as a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms. 

The University of Vermont offers a program called Living Well. Housed in the Davis Center, Living Well is “a home base for health promotion on the UVM campus,” according to its homepage. Students can find mental health resources such as drop-in counseling hours, mindfulness programs, therapy dogs and more. This is a great resource on campus for students struggling with mental health, sexuality, or substance abuse issues. The University of Vermont should expand on this existing programming to make mental health support more widely accessible to all students. 

Mental health is a major issue on college campuses across the country. This highly stigmatized topic must be taken more seriously by colleges everywhere, including UVM. This can be done by expanding existing mindfulness and counseling programs on campus. More funding for these programs would not only make mental health support more accessible to all UVM students, but would also promote a culture of health and wellbeing on campus. 

Hi! My name is Ella Farrell and I am a third-year student at UVM. I'm majoring in Public Communications with a concentration in Community Media & Journalism. I write about mental health, food, travel, and pop culture.