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Last month, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released guidance on acceptable uses of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) institutional portion grant funds to meet the mental health and substance use disorder needs of students.

According to USED, college students, faculty, and staff have been particularly impacted as losses from COVID-19 and disruptions in the learning environment have led to increased anxiety and depression. A Fall 2021 survey of college presidents conducted by the American Council on Education, stated that nearly 75 percent rated student mental health as a pressing issue. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 63 percent of 18-24-year-olds have reported anxiety or depression due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while 25 percent have had suicidal thoughts.

“This guidance is pivotal to supporting each other and students as we navigate the mental challenges that were only exacerbated during the pandemic. This investment will set up long-term support to strengthen mental health and connect students to care. Accessibility is the first step in eliminating any barriers to mental health supports.”

– CCA President Eric Kaljumägi

You can find out more about the Relief Fund, including the grant application material, by visiting: www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/heerfinstitutional.html.

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