Spend unused COVID-19 relief money on mental health, Biden admin. tells universities
The Department of Education is urging colleges and universities to allocate unused federal COVID-19 relief funds for mental health resources on campus.
Initially, the federal government required universities to spend the majority of relief funds on monetary assistance for students.
The Department of Education (DOED) is urging colleges and universities to allocate unused federal COVID-19 relief funds for mental health resources on campus.
"If there is one thing I've heard while speaking with college students throughout the nation, it's been the need for greater mental health supports on campus," U.S Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a May 19 press release.
"We must make sure our colleges and universities have the tools and resources to help students, faculty, and staff heal from the grief, trauma, and anxiety they endured amid the pandemic," he added.
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The initiative will invite higher education institutions to pull from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to "invest in evidence-based mental health supports for students and connect the campus community to providers and care."
HEERF allocated $40 billion to colleges as part of the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan. The amount supplemented $36 billion in previously distributed pandemic relief funds.
Additionally, $198 million was allocated by the DOED in January as part of the American Rescue Plan to support students' "basic needs."
Initially, the federal government required universities to spend the majority of relief funds on monetary assistance for students, Campus Reform reported in March 2021.
But now, the DOED states that universities can use outstanding funds to strengthen mental health resources on campus by increasing the number of "in-person professionals" and partnering with "mental health platforms" to prove students with 24-hour care.
Universities are also advised to provide training in suicide prevention and offer access to a "call/text hotline" for struggling students.
[RELATED: Universities received billions in COVID relief. Some are still imposing delays, remote instruction.]
Lastly, colleges can use the funds to create "long-lasting support" by forming a "Suicide Prevention Coordinating Committee." The committee would be tasked with establishing a campus-wide plan for suicide response and developing on-campus resources for prevention.
"The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to ensuring recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic," the statement reads. "[The] announcement reflects the Administration's pledge to provide resources and support to institutions and their communities."
The administration adamantly released the guidelines during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Campus Reform contacted the Department of Education for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.