Staten Island Borough President James Oddo is proud to announce the launch of a new initiative that will bring essential mental health support services to the College of Staten Island (CSI) students. This evidence-based effort, developed by Northwell Health’s Behavioral Health Partnership and initiated by the Borough President’s office, will bring CSI and its student Counseling Center together for an innovative partnership to enhance behavioral health on campus, amidst a nationwide college mental health emergency.
“Since the start of my administration, our Borough Hall team has been working to address the increasing prevalence of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among young people in our country,” said Borough President Oddo. “As our education and health teams developed K-12 initiatives, I asked our policy team to focus on tackling the difficult mental health challenges that college students face. Therefore, we are proud to announce a Pre-College Workshop developed by Northwell Health aimed at helping students develop skills to reduce anxiety and depression in their college years.”
The Borough President continued, “The spark for this initiative was lit in 2019 when we convened a group of subject-matter experts, practitioners, and administrators from all three colleges in the borough to get their on-the-ground perspective of needs, challenges, and ways in which our office could help. That meeting made it clear, even before the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the college mental health emergency, that we needed to find an effective way to support the critical work of student counseling centers. Therefore, I am excited that Northwell’s AVP of College Mental Health Laura Braider, PhD and her team are lending critical resources and clinical expertise in what will be a paradigm shifting collaboration with CSI. Our hope is to establish clear evidence that this model works so it can eventually be expanded to all three colleges in the borough and beyond.”
According to a spring 2019 survey of 68,000 students conducted by the American College Health Association, nearly 24% of college students were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety in the previous year, and 20% were treated with depression—compared to 10.5% and 10.1% respectively recorded in a similar survey in 2009. One in three college freshmen globally report having major mental health disorders, yet most students do not seek treatment.
Colleges across the country are now bracing for what they expect will be a surge of student behavioral health issues as caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. The CDC’s recent data demonstrates that the stakes couldn’t be higher: One in four college-aged individuals contemplated suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for that age demographic. Staten Island is certainly no exception to the escalating national, college mental health emergency.
“The health and well-being of our students, especially during this pandemic, is of utmost concern,” said Dr. William Fritz, President of CSI. “We are not only prioritizing methods to ensure our students’ physical health, but through this partnership we will strengthen our efforts to safeguard their mental health as well.”
CSI Vice President for Student Affairs, Jennifer Borrero, added, “We are proud to partner with the Borough President and Northwell to provide additional mental health resources to our students. The collaborative treatment plan is a promising national model for addressing mental health challenges among college students. We are especially thrilled to offer the pilot workshop which equips students with the tools to integrate into college life successfully.”
"We are proud to partner on this important issue," said Orit Lender, CEO of the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island. "The pandemic has shown how important it is, especially for young people, to focus on mental health.”
Starting fall 2021, CSI will join Northwell Health’s Behavioral Health College Partnership—already established with 93 New York State colleges and universities—to provide evidence-based emergency evaluations, crisis intervention, inpatient treatment and post-acute care specifically designed for college students. As part of the program, Northwell works closely with the schools and student counseling centers to develop a protocol to respond to a student experiencing psychiatric crisis on campus. Students then have access to Northwell’s inpatient care which exclusively serves college-aged students. Perhaps most distinctively, the program also includes support for students to transition back into their college life with as little disruption as possible.
CSI serves nearly 12,000 undergraduate students, most of them Staten Islanders.
“We already know that the level of stress experienced by young people as a result of COVID-19 has dramatically increased nationally,” said Dr. Braider. “Whether it be from the illness itself, or the secondary effects of social isolation, financial hardships or lack of recent experience taking in-person tests, we expect that college students may suffer more stress as they start or return to college this semester. At this critical time, the Behavioral Health College Partnership team at Northwell is excited to be forging into the area of prevention of psychiatric decompensation of college students.”
The Partnership at CUNY CSI will also include a new element that was prompted by early discussions with the Staten Island Borough President’s Office: A pilot virtual workshop delivered by clinicians to prepare rising college freshmen to cope with the stress of integrating into college life. The workshops teach tangible, evidence-based skills that have been proven to effectively address obstacles to happiness and academic success based on research and over 10 years of data gathered by Northwell. During the pilot, Northwell will be evaluating the efficacy of the program to determine whether it should be added, and scaled, as a component of its overall Behavioral Health College Partnership.
To learn more about Northwell Health’s Behavioral Health College Partnership, please visit: https://zucker.northwell.edu/behavioral-health-college-partnership