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Colleges are lacking mental health support.


By Abby Kozal

A study conducted on community colleges in Michigan found that Grand Rapids Community College is lacking sufficient mental health staff. The study, called Mental Health Improvement through Community Colleges (MHICC), found that GRCC has less mental health staff compared to other community colleges throughout Michigan.

Alex Ammann, a project manager for MHICC, discussed the study and how they went about finding these numbers. Ammann said that the study was created from the idea that “Mental health resources offered to community college students, especially in comparison to four year universities, are very much lacking.”

In order to find this data, they used information available from Michigan community colleges’ websites. 21 of Michigan’s 31 community colleges are involved in the study. They recognized that the position of mental health support staff may look different from school to school, such as having counselors versus mental health staff who may have other roles, like advising.

The study found that for every 5,658.5 students at GRCC, there is only one full-time mental health staff member. The statewide average is one full-time mental health staff member per 1,616 students. 

According to the International Accreditation of Counseling Services (IACS), the recommended staffing ratio for mental health staff members to students is one full-time mental health staff member per 1,000-1,500 students. Compared to other schools in the survey, GRCC falls far below the average.

47% of schools in the study have dedicated mental health providers on campus, meaning someone who does mental health counseling exclusively. Another 47% have dual role counselors, meaning they do mental health counseling in addition to other roles, such as advisors or disability coordinators. Meanwhile 14% of schools do not have any on-campus mental health support staff. It’s important to know that some schools may overlap in categories due to staff who work multiple roles. 

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