The Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019 (S 1204, 116th Congress) calls for an advisory commission within the Department of Education to oversee strategies to improve mental health support at higher education institutions. Specifically, the Act hopes to improve the information that higher education institutions receive regarding mental health concerns among students, and give suggestions for improving mental health services available to students. To accomplish these tasks, the Act calls for the establishment of the Advisory Commission on Serving and Supporting Students with Mental Health Disabilities in Institutions of Higher Education. The Commission would include twenty or fewer members across different education, disability, mental health services, and civil rights offices and organizations. There are additional spots on the Commission for members of the public with an interest in such topic, including individuals with mental health conditions and family members of students or former students with mental health conditions. Across eight or more meetings, the Commission would develop a report outlining issues around mental health services for students, with final recommendations to better these services.
A 2014 article from Psychology Today highlights the “college student mental health crisis.” This article includes startling statistics about mental health conditions in student populations, including that a 2004 task force from the University of California Berkeley found that 45% of surveyed graduate students reported an “emotional or stress-related problem” across the past year that had a significant impact on their academic performance or well-being.