Mental Health on Campus

In the past ten years at KU there has been an increase of over 300% of students requesting accommodations for Mental Health diagnoses – a 60% increase in the last two years. These are just the students requesting help with schooling, we know that the numbers of students who don’t request academic accommodations make these numbers even larger than what they appear to be. In Douglas county, suicide is the second highest leading cause of death, half of the residents experiencing a mental health diagnosis do so by the age of 14, almost 4,000 people have visited the emergency room for a mental health related emergency in the past 4 years and over 220 people call the local suicide prevention hotline each month according the Douglas County Behavioral Health website. Students come from across the globe to get an education from the University of Kansas, so it is important to look at the same numbers nationally as well as globally to fully understand the breadth of need. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the leading mental health organization in the United States, 50% of college students experience a mental health crisis, change, or challenge and of those 50% of students, 65% will drop out due to the mental health change according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Reasons for this could be the lack of support for students, the lack of resources for faculty, the stigmas associated on campus, and the lack of community supports and resources available. This website will serve as a catch all page for resources, supports, policy, guides, and information meant to serve all populations at the University of Kansas’s seven campuses – including the loved ones of those experiencing these changes. Any recommendations on expansions or additional resources should be sent to the KU ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility.

Douglas County Behavioral Health Website

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Kansas Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Mental Health Initiatives on Campus

As part of the 2019-2020 Staff Fellows Program Recommendations, the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility has partnered with multiple departments across campus to complete Mental Health initiatives to create a positive dialogue around mental health. Initiatives include changes to policy to emphasize mental health related reasons for taking leave, edits to training materials for faculty and staff to ease negative stereotypes and stigmas surrounding mental health, and the creation of the Community Mental Health Supports webpage to serve as a home base for mental health resources on and around campus.

Leah Terranova is a white woman with brown curly hair that is to her shoulders. She is wearing gold metal jewelry, makeup, and a patterned white navy blue and brown blouse. She is smiling and looking to the right of the camera.

Every year at orientation we have a peer leadership panel and we hand pick students who have just been great community leaders and we try and have an eye towards representation and the last few years I have chosen a student who was comfortable speaking about receiving accommodations. And just having an upper-class student who is modeling the de-stigmatization of receiving accommodations and who is being held up by the law school as a peer mentor and an example of what we want from our incoming students I think is really helpful in terms of just crushing that stigma around accommodations. And we have seen that the number of students requesting accommodations has gone up exponentially since we started doing that. So I'm hopeful that that is helping to create a culture of compassion around accommodations and mental health.

Leah Terranova
Associate Dean - Academic and Student Affairs, KU Law

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