State funding to expand UC’s student mental health support and services

$1.5M grant to enhance UC’s community of care, promote a mindful campus and build student support

The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) has awarded $1.5 million in new funding to provide essential resources and new initiatives to support student mental health and well-being at the University of Cincinnati. The new funding will be used to build UC’s campus-wide collaborative system of mental health care and support, thus enhancing our community of care. ODHE’s funding will allow UC to further develop mindfulness and compassion programming in new wellness spaces across our campuses, and implement an innovative system to support online students and increase peer-to-peer connection.

Groups of people sit around large tables looking at presentation screens.

University of Cincinnati faculty and staff are volunteering to serve as Mental Health Champions. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

The funds will be used to support UC’s community of care, where all members of the campus community are engaged in supporting student well-being and holistic development. The university’s C.A.R.E. team (Crisis, Assessment, Response, Evaluation) will increase staffing to better identify and broaden advocacy and support services for students experiencing mental health challenges. Enhancements to UC’s system of collaboration and communication will strengthen intervention for students. The funding also allows for a four-year contract with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults in the United States, to implement “data-driven guidance” through the Active Minds Study to protect student mental health. UC will partner with the Jed Foundation to assess our campus' needs and develop a customized strategic plan. Faculty and staff, who already have access to the Mental Health Champions program, will engage in psychological first aid training, which prepares employees for response to mental health recovery and coping.

Eight of UC’s academic colleges will receive wellness space improvements. Wellness spaces help to promote students' holistic growth and well-being through enhanced self-awareness and mindfulness. These spaces will allow for visibility of contemplative practice experiences, such as mindfulness and compassion for individual and collective impact. This initiative is focused on supporting students in navigating their academic success while managing their wellness within their individual experiences and a global context.  

Additionally, the ODHE funding will connect students to each other and our vibrant campus community of support to promote inclusion and connection. Expanded telehealth services will serve UC’s growing online student population residing outside of Ohio. UC will grow the Student Wellness Center’s peer educator team and peer-to-peer support within the student-led Bearcats Support Network.

The ongoing impact of ODHE funding for mental health 

Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Nicole Mayo, UC First Lady Dr. Jennifer Pinto, and Executive Director of Health & Wellness Dr. Tara Scarborough at the opening of the new Student Wellness Center in 2022.

Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Nicole Mayo, UC First Lady Dr. Jennifer Pinto and Executive Director of Health & Wellness Dr. Tara Scarborough at the opening of the new Student Wellness Center in 2022. Photo/Whitney White/UC Student Affairs

ODHE has provided state universities with funding for student mental health and recovery efforts since 2020 when COVID-19 relief funding was implemented. This investment allowed UC to develop new spaces, expand staffing models and provide resources and technology to support student well-being and build a strong infrastructure to support students’ holistic development and academic success. 

With prior funding, UC opened a new Student Wellness Center featuring a multi-level space for students to focus on their well-being. Over the past several years, counseling and psychological services has been implementing an embedded counselor model for each academic college to provide direct support to students and training for faculty and staff. In 2022, UC began providing free subscriptions to the Calm app in 2022 to encourage proactive mental health strategies from meditation to improved sleep.  

Featured image at top: The view outside UC's new Student Wellness Center, which opened in 2022, facing UC MainStreet, the Campus Recreation Center and Lindner College of Business. Photo/Whitney White/UC Student Affairs

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