Nearly 80% of higher education faculty report helping students with mental health issues, and 90% of faculty believe those issues have gotten worse during the pandemic, a nationwide survey finds.

“The vast majority of faculty members, myself included, are not trained mental health professionals, but we have a role to play in supporting student well-being,” says survey principal investigator Sarah Ketchen Lipson, assistant professor of health law, policy, and management at the Boston University School of Public Health. “These data underscore a real opportunity to better equip faculty with knowledge and basic skills to support and refer students.”

While 75% of faculty say they'd reach out to a student in mental or emotional distress, only 51% are confident that they could recognize the signs.

The findings, available online in a report, underscore faculty’s growing involvement in the health and well-being of students and their willingness to serve as mental health “gatekeepers”—a role that has become increasingly important as students continue to navigate online learning, social isolation, and other COVID-19-related stressors.

But the survey reveals that less than 30% of faculty have received training from their academic institutions to handle these issues, even though almost 70% say they would welcome this guidance and are eager to strengthen their support for students experiencing mental or emotional health challenges.

Another key finding: more than one in five faculty members said that students’ mental health has taken a toll on their own mental health. Almost half of respondents said that their institution should invest more in supporting faculty mental health and well-being.

“I am hopeful that our new research in this area will raise awareness of the reality that many faculty members are struggling with their own mental and emotional health,” Lipson says.

Read the full article about training faculty to support students' mental health by Jillian McKoy at Futurity.