CMC gets $300K grant for mental health services | VailDaily.com

CMC gets $300K grant for mental health services

Donna Gray
Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Mountain College is launching a pilot program aimed at improving mental health and disability services for its students. A $300,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation will enable the college to develop expanded mental health support and disability testing services.

The grant will pay for research to evaluate support and testing programs to help determine the best and most efficient use of the college's resources in supporting students.

Over the past few years, CMC's student support services staff and faculty have seen a rising number of students in need of support in response to mental health issues, which fits with a national trend. According to Psychology Today, evidence suggests that American college students of any age have greater levels of stress and mental illness than at any time in the country's history.

Lisa Doak, the college's assistant vice president for student services, said that for many students a combination of navigating multiple cultures, an uncertain economy, balancing relationships and social media bring about stress leading to anxiety and depression.

Doak added that younger students saw their parents struggle to get through the Great Recession, creating unprecedented uncertainty and social pressures.

Some students also have more serious mental health issues to deal with. Doak said that according to the American College Health Association, one in four college students has a diagnosable mental illness. Colorado's suicide rate is among the highest in the country.

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Among the goals of the pilot program is to increase the number of students who can access mental health services and disability testing, which will help them to succeed in college. New and expanded services will include mental health screenings, peer intervention education, infusing life/coping skills into student success classes and ongoing peer support groups with trained student mentors overseen by a professional facilitator.

In addition, the program aims to assist students who can't afford to be professionally assessed for a disability such as a learning disability. Americans with Disabilities Act legislation requires college students to have documentation of a disability to receive accommodations. Students who can't afford the testing are at a disadvantage; the pilot testing will be based on financial need to assist low-income students.

"Oftentimes, after such a barrier is removed, and a student gets the right support, we see them flourish," Doak said.