University welcomes Connecticut governor to unveil new student mental health program

Members of the New Haven University community joined lawmakers and heads of state in announcing the allocation of $ 2.7 million in funding to launch the Connecticut Campus mental health program and to participate in a discussion about the importance of emotional health and well-being.

December 16, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Governor Ned Lamont speaks at the University of New Haven.

Elizabeth Sirett ’22 strongly believes in the importance of taking care of your mental health. Sirett, who suffered from anxiety, said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today without psychological counseling and services.”

Sirett recently spoke at an event at New Haven University where Governor Ned Lamont announced the launch of a new program that will provide up to $ 2.7 million in funding for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) to colleges and universities across the state to help respond to student mental health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comparing mental health to the weather, Sirett told participants about the importance of checking in with your “personal weather report”. She says mental health is “just as important” as physical health and that the pandemic has only added to students’ mental health problems.

“I believe our experiences and our environment are directly related to our mental health,” said Sirett, a math major. “Take a physical scenario in which a turtle had to be placed in a desert. I think we can agree that he would have a hard time adapting based on what he knows, which can cause stress. Students entering the new, unfamiliar climate of a college campus can have a similar experience.

“Every ounce of support possible for students in need”

The Connecticut Campus Mental Health (CCAMHP) program will provide awards to higher education institutions to support innovative, evidence-based strategies that expand access to care, increase education and awareness of mental health programs and services , and improve the knowledge of students and staff to enable them to better support students. It is particularly focused on serving underserved and minority students.

“In particular, Black, Indigenous, Colored (BIPOC) students and other under-represented students are increasingly experiencing mental health issues due to the unique barriers and challenges they face,” Ophélie said. Rowe-Allen, Ed.D., Dean of Students at the University. “This initiative will help universities be more progressive in their approach to integrating mental health wellness into the classroom, the program studies and other academic and extracurricular settings.

“The University of New Haven welcomes this opportunity to explore the creation of new wellness initiatives,” she continued. “It will help students develop the resilience and coping skills they need to manage the challenges they will face now and in the future, and to be successful both personally and academically. ”

Planned to benefit more than 130,000 undergraduate students at more than two dozen Connecticut colleges and universities, funding for the program will be administered by the State Office of Higher Education.

As of fall 2020, more than a third of students reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many Connecticut higher education institutions report that counseling centers have seen a significant increase in demand from students.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the mental health of college and university students which, if left unchecked, could have significant long-term ramifications for their overall well-being,” said Governor Lamont. “This funding is an important step forward in ensuring that our higher education institutions are equipped to provide all possible support to students in need after a difficult school year.”

Left to right: Governor Ned Lamont, Ophelie Rowe-Allen, Elizabeth Sirett '22 and Sheahon Zenger.
Left to right: Governor Ned Lamont, Ophelie Rowe-Allen, Elizabeth Sirett ’22 and Sheahon Zenger.
“The Potential of Counseling to Improve the Lives of Many More Students”

The event, which included local and state leaders, academic staff and representatives from the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, included a discussion on the prevalence of mental health issues and the importance of addressing them, especially among students. Almost three in four college and university presidents identified student mental health as a pressing issue for the current school year.

“We recognize that the continued impact of COVID-19, unrest and division across our country, and social media have created challenges and obstacles that, frankly, older generations have not encountered as a ‘students,’ said Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D., the university’s athletic director. “Our continued charge is to ensure that as educators we continue to raise awareness and understand the importance of protecting our mental health and the resources available to enable all of our students to thrive in and out of. the classroom.”

“There is so much social and academic pressure on students,” added Professor Dorinda Borer, Connecticut State Representative, adjunct professor at the university and mother of a student. “We are seeing complications in their upbringing for mental health reasons.”

Sirett, the math major, believes that prioritizing mental health is essential and that the University’s Psychological and Counseling Services (CAPS) are an “invaluable resource” that has helped her, as well. than countless other students.

“We are doubtful, insecure, proud, creative and beautiful people who are still learning,” she said. “College education can extend far beyond the classroom setting and can involve serious personal growth. I see the potential of counseling to improve the lives of many more students. Imagine how effective it would be to serve the needs of more students and give them the rich soil, sunlight, and water that all that is so organically beautiful will need in order to grow and flourish. develop.

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