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Kentucky Puts $1.5M into Mental Health Support for Higher Ed

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education announced $1.5 million to support student mental health services while officials warn of a growing demand for counseling resources during the crisis.

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The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education will devote $1.5 million in federal relief funds to mental health services for higher ed students coping with stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Tuesday news release.

The initiative will use more than $900,000 to help expand campuses’ mental health programs, along with efforts to train campus mental health professionals and provide Web-based support. The council will also establish a virtual support network for high school seniors in the GEAR UP Kentucky program, which helps prepare low-income students for college.

The funding comes from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, known as GEER, which has used nearly $14 million in CARES Act funds to assist campuses in responding to the pandemic. Since May, the council has allocated $12.3 million directly to campuses for COVID-related expenses like remote learning. The remaining $1.5 million was in reserve until Tuesday.

According to the council, Kentucky’s higher ed institutions have experienced a growing demand for counseling resources during the public health crisis, reporting increasing rates of anxiety and depression.

“We are going to beat COVID-19 this year, but the emotional scars from this pandemic will take longer to heal,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Tuesday statement. “Our students have sacrificed so much to ensure their safety and protect others in their communities. We need to show up for them now to make sure they have the support they need to come out of this crisis safely – physically and mentally.”