Investing in California College Students’ Mental Health Yields High Returns

According to a RAND Corporation study released this month, the California’s Student Mental Health Initiative, a California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) program funded by the Mental Health Services Act,  led to a 13 percent increase in public university and community college students receiving mental health treatment and, as a result, will lead to:

  • 329 more students graduating with higher education degrees.
  • $56 million return for every year (or $6.49 return for every dollar) invested in the California Student Mental Health Initiative.

These results reinforce how important it is for San Mateo County to continue investing in prevention and early intervention for our students, particularly for our three community colleges: Cañada College, College of San Mateo and Skyline College.  The BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity offers prevention and early intervention programs to San Mateo County students and residents, including free community education courses, stigma discrimination reduction campaign and storytelling series.

The overall goal of the statewide Student Mental Health Initiative is “to improve the capacity of each campus to more quickly identify, support, and intervene with students at risk of mental health problems and to raise student and campus staff awareness of the importance of mental health well-being for successful completion of higher education.” About one-fifth to one-third of undergraduates have a mental health problem. Of those college students with a mental health disorder, only 20-40% seek treatment (the rate is even lower among public institutions).


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