It’s August, which for college students across the country means one thing – back to school. And while students may be choosing classes, packing for the dorms, and following up with old friends, they are overwhelmingly also battling symptoms of mental illness.

According to the National Education Association, around 60% of college studentstoday meet the criteria for at least one mental illness. Rates of depression and anxiety amongst students are at historic levels. 15% of students have reported considering suicide. Our college students are in a mental health crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, rising housing and tuition costs, and the stresses of managing classes, jobs, financial obligations, and family obligations.

Another huge factor in this college mental health crisis is the scarcity of counselors and other mental health professionals, especially in rural areas. Campus wellness centers are overwhelmed and understaffed. Students of color have an especially difficult time finding counselors who are culturally aligned with them, which is partially why white students are twice as likely to seek out mental healthcare as students of color.

NAMI on Campus Provides Peer Support and Community

NAMI on Campus clubs help students facing mental illness to find peers to offer support and a community in which to belong. These student-led, student-run organizations serve college campuses by:

  • Raising mental health awareness with fairs, walks, and candlelight vigils.
  • Educating the campus on mental health issues with presentations, guest speakers, and student panels.
  • Advocating for improved mental health services and policies on campus.
  • Supporting peers with signature NAMI programs and training from NAMI state organizations and local affiliates.

Being a part of a NAMI on Campus club gives students the safe space they need to talk about their mental health struggles and find necessary help. It also gives students opportunities to help other students, lead projects and events, and find their voices through advocacy for better mental health policies.

NAMI on Campus in North Carolina

Currently there are nine NC-based NAMI on Campus clubs, including:

  • Appalachian State University
  • Duke University
  • Fayetteville State University – the nation’s first NAMI on Campus at an HBCU
  • UNC-Chapel Hill
  • NC State University
  • UNC-Wilmington
  • Meredith College
  • Western Carolina University
  • Winston-Salem State University

If you are interested in more information, including on how to start a NAMI on Campus chapter at your school, visit our website.