Viewpoint: How universities can improve responsiveness to students’ mental health issues

Leaves of absence are a common choice for college students dealing with physical or mental health challenges; they take a semester off to take care of their health, and ideally return to school ready to learn.

But there isn’t much data out there about leaves of absence, how schools track them, or how well they work. That’s why over the past year, Wily has been partnering with Boston University’s School of Public Health practicum program to conduct research on the subject.

BU Practicum Students Carly Cote and Brahim Aswald joined with Wily’s Executive Director Judi Alperin King and board member Cindy Lawry to write an op-ed about mental health medical leaves published by the Boston Business Journal. 

“We found that school departments, including health services, counseling centers, the registrar and the Dean’s office, rarely communicate about students’ mental health. Pockets of information may reside in different departments, but rarely does even the counseling center have a complete picture,” they wrote. The authors urge schools to track mental health leave data in order to support students more effectively.