Published: Oct. 22, 2020

The university will allocate $1.8 million to support the mental health and wellness needs of undergraduate and graduate students as they continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and other issues unique to their lives and times, campus officials announced today.

Campus leaders have set aside funding for additional clinical services that will be embedded in colleges and schools, including at least 13 more counselors over the next four years, said Jennifer McDuffie, associate vice chancellor of student affairs.

In addition, she said, “We will be more intentional in our efforts to support students from historically marginalized communities and will prioritize multicultural competencies among all of our service providers.”

Putting a greater focus on providing students of color and other historically underrepresented groups with access to specially trained counselors who are more aware of unique challenges arose from a request by students seeking substantive, long-term change, said Bob Boswell, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement.

“Our students asked us to critically examine the intercultural competency of the campus’s support services and to reevaluate how effectively we engage with and support their needs,” Boswell said. “This investment will go a long way toward addressing those concerns during these trying times and beyond.”

Over the summer, the campus awarded $1.1 million for mental health and wellness support, and this week campus leaders agreed to contribute an additional $700,000 to expand support services. Since March, when COVID-19 began impacting college campuses around the country, the university has seen greater demand for mental health and wellness services, McDuffie said.

CU Boulder’s Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) has held more than 8,000 telehealth appointments since April and, within the first five days of fall classes, CAPS managed 275 student drop-in appointments––about 60 students each day––in addition to scheduled appointments.

“We recognize that mental health and wellness needs were already on the rise well before the pandemic began unfolding,” McDuffie said. “We want to expand existing services without burdening students with increased mental health fees.”

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano acknowledged the need for additional campus student support services, especially those that will help students navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19, including feelings of frustration and powerlessness due to travel restrictions, separation from family and friends, and other issues.

“We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, and it is important that we pull together as a campus community to support our students,” DiStefano said. “These funds will go toward support services that we know our students need, want and will appreciate this coming spring and in the future.”

McDuffie, who oversees Health and Wellness Services through the Division of Student Affairs, works in tandem with the vice chancellor for student affairs, the chancellor, the provost, the chief operating officer, deans and other academic and administrative campus leaders to ensure students are receiving the support they need from the university and their schools and colleges.

“Our students are experiencing a global public health crisis not seen in more than a century. Making this a priority for our community is exactly the right thing to do at this moment. We want our students to be able to focus on their academic, career and life goals with skills that will help them succeed and become more resilient now and in the future,” she said.