Student IDs: An Overlooked Resource for Mental Health
College students are stepping into the best years of their lives with a massive pit in their stomachs. In fact, their anxiety is worse than ever. They don’t know where to turn for help.
They aren’t sure if they even deserve help.
We hear from young people — often in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep — and we’ve met a generation in crisis.
According to a Northwestern Institute for Policy Research article, 18- to 24-year-olds are reporting increased levels of depression and anxiety with 34% reporting thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are overwhelmed by a world that feels chaotic and unfixable. When they read the news and scroll through social media, many of their biggest fears are confirmed and exacerbated.
We know that if we can engage with this age group early on, we can guide them before their angst becomes an emergency.
Free and accessible resources are a call or a text away, and there should be an easy way for them to access such services. It’s up to us to put the tools in students’ pockets. In fact, it’s as simple as putting crisis and suicide hotline information on their student IDs.
A federal bill, the Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act, is a bipartisan piece of legislation that would add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988), Crisis Text Line, and a campus mental health center or program, to the back of newly issued student ID cards for higher education institutions. The bill has been passed by the Senate before — twice — and was just reintroduced by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., last week.
Now is the time to make this simple solution a reality.
We’ve seen immense results in states where high school student IDs include free mental health and crisis support lines.
In Wisconsin, according to Crisis Text Line’s analytics dashboard, where high school students can reach out to us using the keyword Hopeline, nearly 14,000 people have texted in for support.
Knowing where to go for support in a moment of need can help students work through their stress, anger or feelings of hopelessness. College students deserve that opportunity, and they need it now more than ever.
Higher education institutions represent the hope of the future — but the students are losing hope to anxiety.
Now is the time to pass this critical and commonsense legislation to improve access to mental health support across the United States, making it easy for them to manage that anxiety before it turns into anything more serious.
We owe it to them.
For mental health support, text HOME to 741741 to connect with a volunteer Crisis Counselor.
Courtney Hunter is vice president of public policy and advocacy for Crisis Text Line, where she stewards the federal public policy objectives and partnerships for the organization, encompassing mental health workforce development and youth prevention efforts. Previously, Hunter worked at Shatterproof and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and has led campaigns and high-level partnerships with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Major League Baseball and The Meth Project. You can follow Crisis Text Line on Instagram.