Grant aims to help mental health of college students

Published 10:42 am Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Jed Foundation (JED), a leading national nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults, announced a four-year collaboration with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE)’s Student Success Collaborative (KYSSC) and the Healthy Minds Network.

Together, the organizations have launched a new multitiered pilot program focusing on the evaluation, development, and deployment of mental health, suicide prevention, and substance misuse programming for select college campuses, reaching nearly 200,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, or 75 percent of all college students, across Kentucky.

As part of the partnership, JED is working with CPE to establish and facilitate a community of practice (CoP) that engages CPE staff, campus leaders, and mental health professionals at more than 25 colleges and universities.

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The first two of four virtually held CoPs kicked off last year with the goal of uniting community members from across the state to share best practices for supporting youth well-being, grounded in both JED’s Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention for Colleges and Universities and JED Campus, while also making space for individuals to share lived experiences.

“Addressing mental health challenges among college students requires a comprehensive approach, including better access to mental health services and campus initiatives to reduce stigma around these services,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “It also requires campus-wide conversations and professional learning opportunities for faculty, staff and others. We are grateful to JED for their leadership and partnership in making Kentucky a leader in addressing these issues.”

Suicide remains the second-leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 34 in the United States, and 14% of college students contemplated suicide last year. In 2021, more than 3 million Kentuckians reported living in a community without a sufficient number of mental health professionals, and one-third of the state’s young adults ages 18 to 25 identified as living with a mental health condition.

Grant funding comes from Macy’s Inc., who sponsored the mental health programming and comprehensive suicide preventative efforts of four KY schools. This initiative was also made possible by the James Graham Brown Foundation, which funded the launch of the Kentucky Student Success Collaborative (KYSSC). The KYSSC has invested $214,400 to support 21 colleges and universities to receive JED technical assistance and to support their mental health strategic plan implementation.