Over the past two decades, many campuses have increased the quality and quantity of mental health services offered to students. However, little attention has been paid to formalizing and standardizing leave of absence policies for students finding they need to take a break to nurture their mental health. In late March 2021, we launched a survey to better understand mental health experiences during COVID, and more than half of respondents said that they expect that post-COVID life will be challenging. When asked about what from their COVID-19 experiences they hope will be here to stay, the two most common responses were overall increased value/priority placed on mental health by society (69%) and the flexibility to do life at their own pace (67%).
Below are various resources that can help you better understand what a leave of absence is, how it can benefit student mental health, and how to begin a campaign at your school. Included are two guides from our partners at the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University detailing how to support students before, during, and after a leave of absence, as well as how to ensure there are supportive leave of absence policies in place on your campus.
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Throughout October 2021, Active Minds hosted three free Leave of Absence workshops in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University.
Leave of Absence Workshop Series
Throughout October, Active Minds hosted a series of workshops on leave of absence policies in partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University. These workshops helped attendees better understand what a leave of absence policy is, what benefits it can bring to campuses, and how to assess their school’s own leave of absence policy, as well as improve it.
Oct. 19, 4-5 PM ET: Your Leave at Your PACE – A Student Workshop to Understand Leaves of Absence
The first workshop in our series focuses on students and the benefits of leave of absence policies on campus. Students will hear from panelists from across the country about what a leave of absence is, how these policies support mental health, and how they can be implemented on college campuses.
Oct. 21, 4-5 PM EST: Supporting Students Taking a Leave of Absence – A Workshop for Campus Leaders, Faculty, and Staff
The second workshop caters to campus faculty, staff, administrators, and leaders who are looking for ways to support students before, during and after a leave of absence. During this workshop, attendees will hear from a group of higher education leaders as they discuss their campus leave of absence policies and the value, to students and the institution, of having strong campus leave of absence policies.
Oct. 28, 4-5 PM EST: Assessing Your Campus Leave of Absence Policy
The final workshop brings together students, faculty, staff and administrators from across the country to assess the strengths and areas of improvement for their campus leave of absence policy. This interactive workshop will begin with rich content from leading experts in the field related to mental health, higher education, and policy development and conclude with breakout sessions to connect with colleagues for a guided conversation on leave of absence policies.
Other campaign guides
The main Advocacy Guide in the Transform Your Campus series includes information on basic leadership skills and provides an overview of the change process and how you can play a major part.
The following additional campaign guides are available for achieving specific advocacy goals.
- ID Cards Campaign — Ensure every student has mental health crisis numbers on hand when they need it most
- Orientation/FYE Campaign — Add mental health education to orientations and first year experience courses
- Leave of Absence Campaign — Improve leave of absence policies so students with mental health issues can take the time they need
- Means Reduction Campaign — Reduce the rate of deaths by suicide by limiting access to fatal methods
- Student Fees Campaign — Advocate for student fees that support more mental health services on campus
Transform Your Campus was developed with a generous grant from Peg’s Foundation.