Recommendations from the Task Force on Student Mental Health and Safety
The UT System places high value on the health and safety of its students and strives to be a national exemplar in providing the requisite programs and resources to facilitate student health and safety. Research shows that many students arrive on university campuses with mental health concerns that can be exacerbated by the stress and pressure of academic requirements and the challenging issues students encounter developmentally and in their transition to university life. Other students might experience symptoms for the first time while on a university campus, as 18-25 is a common age of onset for many mental health disorders.
Although faculty, staff, and administrators forge close relationships with some students on campus, it is difficult to identify the early warning signs of psychological issues. Concerns are often not visibly observable and can even be difficult for individuals to detect in themselves. While mentors, advisors, and counselors exist on every campus, rates of help-seeking are low relative to the incidence of mental health concerns. Further, a lack of resources makes it challenging to keep up with growing student demand from year to year. Due to the increasing emphasis on behavioral intervention and the growing need for mental health care and counseling at universities, the Task Force on Student Mental Health and Safety Task Force was convened by the UT System Board of Regents to address these growing concerns.
Task Force Charge
The Task Force on Student Mental Health and Safety is charged with reviewing current campus practices to increase the probability that worrisome student behavior is identified and that appropriate institutional responses can be initiated. The Task Force has been charged with addressing the following questions and issues:
- Charge #1: Develop recommendations in the structure and process of Behavioral Intervention Teams (BITs) to ensure that timely and appropriate referrals are made with appropriate outcomes and dispositions.
- Charge #2: Identify successful processes in place on campuses to identify students with mental health concerns.
- Charge #3: Identify mechanisms to support students with mental health concerns.
- Charge #4: Determine if additional campus data may be gathered and categorized to identify troubled students for the purposes of early intervention and outreach.
In addition to the recommendations that stem from the Task Force charge, the Task Force has developed recommendations for students at health institutions who have been less likely to seek mental health counseling and treatment due to confidentiality and licensure concerns. Finally, the Task Force has also considered the potential to leverage system resources to improve mental health among students system-wide.