Campuses at the State University of New York will use $24 million in federal funding to expand mental health and wellness programs as the COVID-19 pandemic has strained resources and placed a spotlight on the issue. 

SUNY's Board of Trustees on Wednesday advanced the money, which was made available through a package of federal COVID-19 relief aid. 

Expanded services are expected to include after-hours care, well-being spaces, new staff hirings, suicide prevention programming and support for students who live off campus. There will also be expanded training for counseling center staff. 

“The availability of the American Rescue Plan funding has allowed our campuses to be even more innovative and comprehensive in their approach to mental health and wellness services—hiring more experts to increase on-site counseling and creating opportunities to expand wellness and social activities,” said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “Our students continue to face mental health challenges, and they are looking to SUNY to provide them with accessible resources and supports to uplift their overall well-being. This one-time federal funding, coupled with ongoing New York State investment in mental health and wellness services, will ensure that these programs continue for each class of SUNY students.”

Programs will be specific to many SUNY campuses. For instances, Binghamton University plans to hire an additional divisional diversity officer who will address mental health concerns in diverse communities. 

Farmingdale State College plans to have a "de-stressing festival" and access to therapy dogs. And Jamestown Community College will start partnerships with Chautauqua County’s Suicide Prevention Alliance and public mental health officials. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found anxiety and depression have cinrease from 36.4% of the adult population to 41.5% between August 2020 and February 2021. The most significant increase occurred among people between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.