Research center recognized for work in field of college student mental health

December 07, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The staff of a Penn State research center was recently recognized for its contributions to the national field of college student mental health. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) was awarded the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) President’s Award for its work on the Clinical Load Index (CLI).

The CLI is a new metric that provides a reliable, comparable and intuitive distribution of counseling center staffing levels that can be used to inform decisions about the resourcing of mental health services in colleges and universities, according to Ben Locke, senior director of Counseling and Psychological Services and executive director of CCMH. In brief, the CLI describes the relationship between the demand for and supply of mental health services in college and university counseling centers.

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of more than 600 CCMH members and the dedicated CCMH team of students, staff and faculty who have worked tirelessly for more than 15 years to advance our understanding of college student mental health,” said Locke. “This award offers a well-deserved opportunity to pause and celebrate the progress we have made and the positive impacts we have been able to achieve.”

According to Locke, the field has traditionally used a staff to student ratio to help determine staffing levels, which has struggled to provide accurate guidance. The new CLI metric provides colleges and universities with much more accurate and comparable information in order to support their decisions regarding services and staffing levels.

Work on the CLI began in the fall of 2018 and used data from more than 400 colleges and universities, with the first iteration launched in the fall of 2019. The work is ongoing, and an updated version of the tool is set to be released in early 2021, consisting of data from about 600 colleges and universities.

Administered within Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, CCMH is an international Practice-Research-Network (PRN) that brings together clinical work, research and technology. CCMH collects data through routine clinical practice from over 650 college and university counseling centers internationally, creating the largest PRN of its kind. The mission of CCMH is to improve the understanding and practice of college student mental health at the national level by transforming high-quality national data into research, clinical tools, and guidance for higher-education administrators.

The Association of University and College Counseling Center (AUCCCD) is the largest organization of campus mental health leaders in the world. Each year, AUCCCD recognizes member achievements that exemplify excellence in the promotion of campus mental health.

Last Updated December 07, 2020