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Supporting Students' Mental Health Through Our Basic Needs Initiative

May 19, 2023

By Ireri Rivas Mier y Teran, Program Officer

In observance of Mental Health Awareness month, ECMC Foundation would like to highlight the impactful work of two grantees―Active Minds and California State University, Northridge Foundation. We consider mental health to be a core component of postsecondary students’ basic needs and are honored to include these grantee’s efforts as part our Basic Needs Initiative.

Active Minds is a nonprofit that was established as a chapter in her undergraduate institution by then college student Alison Malmon. Malmon had the goal to open an honest conversation about mental health struggles faced by young people in the U.S. Fast forward to today, through advocacy, research, and education Active Minds empowers young adults to speak openly about mental health. They are creating a community of peers—via chapters at schools all over the U.S.—who talk openly about their struggles, connect with each other, and strengthen an ecosystem of support that changes the culture around mental health.

Through funding from ECMC Foundation, Active Minds is assessing how membership in their college chapters impacts student success outcomes. They developed a thoughtful survey with insights and feedback from current chapter members and began data collection at the end of last year. Once all survey results have been analyzed, Active Minds will prepare materials to detail their member experiences and share the impact of Active Minds on student success and career readiness.

California State University, Northridge Foundation was funded in collaboration with four other funders to build the capacity of five Los Angeles County California State University (CSU) campuses to address the increased demand for mental health services among their students and strengthen the regional infrastructure of mental wellness services across the CSU system. Participating campuses are engaging directly via their counseling services offices:

As a collective, the five CSU campuses will work to meet their students’ mental health needs more effectively. Each campus will engage in activities designed to address the unique needs of their students, and there will be multiple opportunities for campuses to join in collaborative efforts. For the latter, all five campuses will develop mental health outreach and training program toolkits, and provide and evaluate training, education and professional development opportunities for their staff and faculty to engage with students in more responsive ways. These, among other activities, will then be evaluated, summarized, and shared with the rest of the CSU campuses for shared best practices that will allow for replication of effective programs. Most important, participating campuses will initiate the creation of a data clearinghouse to monitor evaluation and assessment, make materials easily accessible, and ensure information is shared consistently across the CSU system. A CSU Mental Health Symposium will be held at the end of the project to share best practices and a final Evaluation Impact report.

Many students function through incredible stress and pressure while balancing a number of competing priorities, including their academics. During Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond, ECMC Foundation recognizes the critical need to support students' mental health and wellness.

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