NC Gov. Cooper announces $7.7 million in mental health services funding for state’s postsecondary institutions

<p>The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.</p>

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper recently announced $7.7 million in funding to help the state’s postsecondary educational institutions provide mental health resources to their students. 

The allocation is directed at the state’s public institutions, and will fund both new mental health initiatives and sustain existing programs in the University of North Carolina System. This system includes North Carolina Central University, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, among other institutions.

The UNC System then plans to collaborate with the state’s independent colleges and universities — which includes Duke — as well as the state’s community colleges, to offer suicide prevention training to faculty and staff, according to the release. 

Chris Simmons, Duke’s interim vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote in an email to The Chronicle that Duke “[doesn’t] know if we will benefit from the state funding. There have been no specific institutional allocations.”

He wrote that once plans for “collaboration and training” are developed across the state’s postsecondary institutions, the University will “know more about Duke’s participation in future joint trainings.”

Apart from training, this funding will also maintain an after-hours mental health hotline for students in all 17 UNC institutions, as well as "develop a new resiliency training program for faculty, staff, and students," according to the release.

“There has been a troubling rise in mental health challenges for young people across our nation, and we’re seeing the impact here in North Carolina,” said UNC System President Peter Hans in the release. “We need to meet that need with urgency and compassion, and these funds go a long way in helping us reach students who are struggling.”

This funding builds on the governor’s 2021 allocation of $5 million to support mental health initiatives in the state’s postsecondary institutions. The UNC System used this funding to launch a Mental Health First Aid training initiative. 

The initiative trained instructors, who in turn trained university faculty and staff across the state, to identify and respond to mental health and substance abuse disorders. As of November 2022, the UNC System has trained 274 instructors across the state’s universities and colleges, who have trained almost 2,500 faculty and staff, per the February release.

Though Simmons said he is unable to confirm whether Duke participated in these past trainings with UNC, he noted that “the training that [Duke Counseling and Psychological Services] providers receive is exceptional.”

The funding comes from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, which was established in 2020 as part of the congressional COVID-relief bill to help educational institutions address the impact of the pandemic. Federal grants are awarded to each state’s GEER fund based on their population of children and young adults.

Anisha Reddy | Senior Editor

Anisha Reddy is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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