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Few Grads Say Alma Mater Prioritizes Mental Health
Education

Few Grads Say Alma Mater Prioritizes Mental Health

by John Clark
Few Grads Say Alma Mater Prioritizes Mental Health

Story Highlights

  • 17% strongly agree their alma mater is passionate about mental health
  • Public, not-for-profit school alums more likely to say alma mater is passionate

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, colleges and universities have rallied to provide virtual mental health services for students battling anxiety and depression. Yet, before the pandemic, only 17% of recent graduates strongly agreed that their alma mater is passionate about the mental health of its students.

Alumni Rate Alma Mater's Passion for Students' Mental Health
On a scale of 1 to 5, in which 1 means strongly disagree and 5 means strongly agree, please rate your level of agreement with the following statement: [University] is passionate about the mental health of its students.
Recent graduates
%
Strongly agree 17
4 28
3 26
2 10
Strongly disagree 4
Does not include the 16% of respondents who answered "Don't know"
GALLUP ALUMNI SURVEY, OCT. 24-NOV. 7, 2019

These results are based on interviews conducted Oct. 24-Nov. 7, 2019, with 1,617 U.S. college graduates who completed their bachelor's degree between 2010 and 2019.

Not-for-Profit Schools Viewed as More Passionate About Mental Health

Recent graduates of public and private not-for-profit schools are more than twice as likely as alumni from private for-profit schools to strongly agree that their alma mater is passionate about students' mental health.

Nonprofit Schools Viewed as More Passionate About Students' Mental Health
On a scale of 1 to 5, in which 1 means strongly disagree and 5 means strongly agree, please rate your level of agreement with the following statement: [University] is passionate about the mental health of its students.
Public Private not-for-profit Private for-profit
% % %
Strongly agree 17 19 7
4 27 30 15
3 27 26 25
2 9 10 6
Strongly disagree 3 3 13
Does not include the percentages of respondents who answered "Don't know"
GALLUP ALUMNI SURVEY, OCT. 24-NOV. 7, 2019

This suggests that private for-profit universities, which serve higher rates of nontraditional students who are more likely to study on a part-time basis, have room for improvement in the provision of mental health resources.

Notably, school size does not affect graduates' views on this matter. Recent graduates from the largest schools (20,000 or more students) are about as likely as those from the smallest schools (fewer than 1,000 students) to believe that their alma mater is passionate about mental health. There is also no clear pattern among schools of intermediate size.

Faculty Relationships Linked to Perceptions of Mental Health Outlook

Graduates who perceive their professors as empathetic have rosier views of mental health attitudes on campus. Alumni who strongly agree that their professors cared about them "as a person" are three times more likely to also strongly agree that their school is passionate about students' mental health.

Mentorship matters too. Recent graduates who strongly agree that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams are more than twice as likely to also strongly agree that their school handles mental health issues with vigor.

Implications

Nearly 45% of U.S. college students were treated for anxiety or depression during the 2018-2019 academic year, according to the American College Health Association. Building a robust network of mental health support -- including a reliable teletherapy practice -- to treat these students is even more important in the wake of COVID-19.

Students' views of their school's attitude toward mental health are also tied to experiences with faculty that fall outside a formal counseling network. These experiences leave a lasting impact, as students with mentors and caring professors are almost twice as likely to be thriving in their wellbeing as adults.

In addition, those who strongly agree that their institution is passionate about its students' mental health are more likely to strongly agree that their school prepared them well for life after college and that their education was worth the cost.

As a result, prioritizing students' mental health needs can provide cascading benefits for universities and students alike. During a public health crisis, caring for students' mental health has become even more vital.

Learn more about the Gallup Alumni Survey.

Learn more about Gallup Education.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/312428/few-grads-say-alma-mater-prioritizes-mental-health.aspx
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