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Mental Health Support Proven to Improve Student Retention 

August 9, 2023

Mental health is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue among college students. The stress and pressure of academic demands, social expectations, and the transition to adulthood can take a toll on young adults, often leading to mental health concerns.

With retention top of mind for many institutions, let’s explore the importance of mental health services in supporting students throughout their educational journey. Additionally, we’ll delve into how colleges can provide support specifically targeted towards first-year students.

Impacts On School Performance

Student retention, defined as the ability of a student to persist and complete their educational goals, is a critical aspect of how colleges and universities gauge success. However, mental health challenges can harm a student’s ability to stay enrolled and excel academically. The link between mental health and student retention has been extensively studied, and the findings are alarming.

The 2022 Annual CCMH Report found that first-year students with a history of mental health challenges and high levels of academic distress were more likely to drop out. However, the report also highlights that once students begin to experience improvements in their mental health, they were 51% less likely to withdraw from college. This emphasizes the significant impact that counseling support can have on retention rates.

Reduced academic performance, lack of motivation, and limited social support systems are contributing factors to college students either dropping out or taking longer to complete their degrees. Furthermore, untreated mental health conditions can lead to a decline in overall well-being, making it even more challenging for students to stay engaged and focused on their studies.

Along with academic challenges, reduced motivation is another common consequence of mental health issues that can hinder student retention. Mental health conditions often sap individuals of their drive, zest, and enthusiasm. Students who are struggling with their mental well-being may find it hard to muster the motivation to attend classes, participate in extracurricular activities, or engage in academic pursuits. This lack of motivation can create a vicious cycle, as the less involved a student becomes, the more isolated and disengaged they may feel from their educational journey.

Untreated mental health conditions can have far-reaching consequences beyond academic performance. The decline in overall well-being caused by these conditions can further hinder student retention. Mental health issues can affect various aspects of a student’s life, including their physical health, relationships, and ability to engage in self-care. When faced with the daily challenges of managing their mental health, students may find it difficult to prioritize their education and allocate the necessary time and energy to succeed academically.

Addressing First-Year Students’ Mental Health

The transition into college can be particularly challenging for first-year students. They’re often away from home for the first time, navigating a new environment, and building new social relationships. To support students during this critical period, colleges should consider the following:

  1. Implement orientation programs that address mental health and provide information on available support services.
  2. Assign peer mentors to first-year students to help them navigate the college experience and offer guidance on mental health resources.
  3. Organize social events and activities that promote a sense of belonging and foster connections among students.
  4. Create online platforms where students can seek advice and support from their peers or professionals.
  5. Regularly communicate through newsletters or emails, sharing information on mental health resources and self-care practices.

The Role of College Counseling Centers

Recognizing the detrimental impact of mental health issues on student retention, colleges, and universities are increasingly prioritizing mental health services. Providing accessible and comprehensive counseling services can significantly improve the retention rates of students with mental health concerns. By offering therapy, support groups, and resources, colleges can help students develop effective coping mechanisms that enable them to navigate the challenges of college life.

In addition to counseling services, colleges have also invested in mental health awareness campaigns and education programs. These initiatives help reduce mental health stigma, encouraging students to seek help and support without fear of judgment. Normalizing conversations about mental health is essential in fostering a campus culture that values and prioritizes the well-being of its students.

Key Takeaways

The impact of mental health on academic performance and overall well-being is significant, making it imperative for colleges to prioritize student mental health. By providing accessible mental health services, promoting mental health awareness, and implementing strategies tailored to first-year students, colleges can support students in their journey toward achieving academic success while maintaining their mental well-being.

With Medicat’s Counseling EHR, your clinic will be able to securely communicate with students, promote outreach events, and report on the impact you’re having across campus. Learn more today.