Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton recently unveiled a proposal that would, among other things, push colleges to expand their mental health services.
One in seven college students is diagnosed with anxiety, according to a 2015 survey. Another study the same year found that nearly 50% of community college students report symptoms of mental health issues.
Clinton's plan aims to tackle mental health issues at the national level and includes proposals for many kinds of providers.
For colleges, a Clinton presidency may mean preparing to invest more in mental health services and support. The plan says Clinton would "encourage" every institution to have comprehensive prevention and treatment services and to offer coverage for these services. In addition, one proposal would push colleges to create a campus-wide team to manage the institution's mental health policies and services.
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Colleges would be asked to ensure adequate mental health care for LGBT students and students of color in particular. Clinton's plan says that she would ask colleges, researchers, and communities to partner with the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide specialized care for these groups.
However, Clinton's plan also proposes that colleges with large populations of underserved students should receive additional support for their mental health services and for coordinating with local clinics.
Another section of the plan focuses on suicide prevention. According to the document, Clinton would encourage colleges to create a comprehensive suicide prevention strategy that includes employee training, counseling services, and mental health leave policies for students. Clinton also proposes giving colleges an additional $50 million per year to support suicide prevention.
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In addition to these campus-specific policies, the plan includes a national suicide prevention initiative that would be managed by the U.S. Surgeon General, new housing and job opportunities for individuals with mental health issues, and more funding for research into brain and behavioral science. Another recommendation would support the creation of community health centers in every state, an idea Clinton first proposed earlier this year.
Clinton also said that if she is elected, the White House would host a mental health conference during her first year of presidency.
Maya Harris, a senior policy adviser to Clinton's campaign, in a statement said, "Building on her longstanding commitment to health care for all, [Clinton] believes everyone should be able to access quality mental health care—without shame, stigma, or barriers" (Thomas, AP/ABC News, 8/29; Clinton campaign fact sheet, accessed 8/29; Gass, Politico, 8/29; Wagner, "Post Politics," Washington Post, 8/29).
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