A Partnership Model to Enhance Mental Health Staffing: Lessons from Two Community Colleges

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Objective: Community colleges have historically reported high levels of student mental health needs, with low levels of available face to face services. Ways of meeting this mental health staffing challenge is an area of import for each institution. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this situation. The objective of this analysis is to examine the impact of the pandemic on college students, with particular attention to community college student mental health issues and to illuminate a possible strategy to respond the expanded staffing needs faced by this sector of higher education. Method: This work is based on a review of studies reporting the pandemic’s impact on community college student mental health, and needed mental health staffing. Two case studies, one urban and one rural, are presented here to highlight needed community college-university partnerships focused on increasing mental health professionals for community colleges. Results: The case studies illuminated commonalities between urban-rural settings, as well as challenges. Based on the literature review and case studies a generic model for responding to this critical mental health staffing need is presented. Contributions: This work challenges the notion that traditional staffing arrangements are the only patterns available to expand needed mental health professionals needed in community colleges. Studies of alternative staffing arrangement, evaluation, impact, and student satisfaction are warranted.