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Addressing student mental health issues

Nov 5, 2021

In October 2017,  ACAPT created the Task Force to Enhance Academic Programs’ Awareness of the Mental Health and Wellness Needs of Students and Future Clinicians whose task is to determine the incidence and impact of mental health dysfunction in physical therapy students in both the classroom and the clinic. The task force's past and future work help identify best practices for academic programs, including the recommendations here.

On November 3, 2021, all ACAPT member program directors received a unique Qualtrics survey link to distribute to their DPT students.  If your program director didn't receive the link, please email acapt@acapt.org.  

Student mental health is a critical issue  

For the sixth time since April 2020, an American Council on Education (ACE) September 2021 survey identified “mental health of students” as the most pressing issue cited by college and university presidents.

Research has shown an increase in suicidal ideation among young adults throughout the pandemic, according to the Department of Education.

Departments of Education and Justice released a fact sheet in October 2021 on how postsecondary institutions should respond to the mental health needs of their students, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Develop trauma-informed crisis management procedures that include an individualized assessment of the student’s circumstances.
  • Provide and facilitate access to mental health evaluations and services, including making efforts to reduce or remove barriers and negative consequences, including stigma, associated with receiving mental health services.
  • Reasonably modify policies, such as attendance policies, for individual students as appropriate.
  • Train staff to recognize and respond appropriately to signs of distress and suicidal ideation in students.
  • Review and share resources.

Other resources from the Global Forum for Innovation in Health Professional Education  (an organization that ACAPT sponsors) include:

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