University of Texas System approves $16.5M for student

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas System on Tuesday dedicated $16.5 million over the next five years for student mental health support and alcohol education.

Programs for mental health and student safety and alcohol-related initiatives have been overseen by the University of Texas at Austin. During the board vote Tuesday, Chancellor James B. Milliken said the university has “tremendous capacity” in this area, and the programs have grown to benefit students across the University of Texas System.

According to Board of Regents documents, the money will come out of the available university funds pool. Here’s how the funds will be distributed:

  • Mental health crisis line: $900,000
  • Telehealth support: $10,000,000
  • Digital alcohol education, sexual assault and harassment prevention: $2,250,000
  • Faculty and staff training: $1,500,000
  • “Thrive at UT” mobile app: $150,000
  • Evaluation of initiatives from the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment: $250,000
  • Leadership and administrative support from UT Austin: $1,450,000

Documents said the crisis line is helpful to students, because it offers services 24/7. It is also available for students who are traveling, studying abroad or simply off campus.

Training for staff would focus on recognizing and responding to students showing concerning behavior and suicide prevention. This initiative, along with expanding telehealth, are new to the University of Texas System’s efforts.

Documents said the “Thrive at UT” app was developed by UT Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center. The app includes guided videos and assignments to help students implement emotional intelligence and well-being skills into their everyday lives.

In the past 11 years, board documents stated the UT System has funded mental health support through at least four separate allocations. This new allocation “builds on what has been learned over the 11 years and during the pandemic.”

Schools included in the University of Texas System include UT Austin as well as UT branches in Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio and Tyler.