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Foundation working on college mental health, suicide rates go down — including Texas

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Students face a high level of stress from their classes -- and for college students -- choosing careers and moving from home. One organization has been working on improving mental health on campuses for a decade, and their latest report shows a decline in suicide attempts on campuses.

The Jed Foundation, also known as JED, is a nonprofit that aims to protect emotional health, mental health and suicide prevention. They work across high schools, junior colleges and universities providing education to these campuses on how to approach students in mental crisis.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration says that roughly 12.6 million 18-25-year-olds in the U.S. experienced a mental crisis in the past year. That's roughly one in three young adults.

The Mayo Clinic has even looked at the rising mental health concerns among college students. Finances, new friends, different locations, future planning and normal school stress are all cited as concerns. Among diverse students, these symptoms can even be more intense.

"Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in young people ages 20 to 24," the clinic website states. "While the factors that lead to suicide are multifaceted, being diagnosed with a mental illness like depression increases the risk."

JED says there are more than 18 million students in colleges and universities going to class each year. They aim for their program to bring mental health initiatives directly to young adults to help prevent suicide and lower the incidence of anxiety and depression.

Only a short time ago, JED issued their report, Decade of Improving College Mental Health Systems: JED Campus Impact Report. JED findings claim that on campuses using their programs were "25% less likely to report a suicide attempt, 13% less likely to report suicidal planning, 10% less likely to report suicidal ideation, have lower average anxiety and depression scores, and are more likely to graduate."

JED programs include technical assistance programs that can last four years. The colleges and universities in the program are given education, experts and plans to help staff address the needs of campuses.

Roughly 440 colleges and universities have participated in JED programs — including Texas schools such as Texas A&M, Houston Community College, University of Houston and Victoria College, among others.

Their latest report on a decade of work, JED says they saw a decline in suicidal ideation, suicidal planning, and attempts among students at campuses in their programming.

Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a Report for America corps member. RFA places talented, emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7’s to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.

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