It is more than a truism that our students are plagued by high levels of stress, from navigating the rising cost of college to the very real fears of what a ChatGPT infused future holds. Now, more than ever, we in the community college realm observe that these mounting pressures affect the success of our students. Thus, we try with all our might to “squint with our ears,” in other words, listen intently to meet the needs of those we serve.

The first week of October – recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week – invites college campuses across Baltimore to engage in anti-stigma campaigns surrounding mental health. Thirty-nine percent of college students experience a significant mental health issue, while 70% of those students experience a crisis on campus. Along with many other community college partners, CCBC’s commitment to mental wellness includes a partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Metropolitan Baltimore to participate in the #IWILLLISTEN campaign.

As a student-centered institution, CCBC works hard to cultivate a culture of care. We can offer tuition-free initiatives, dual-degree programs, state-of-the-art technologies, workplace experiences, etc., but without access to mental health services, these opportunities often go underutilized. The #IWILLLISTEN campaign sheds light on the importance of having open and honest conversations as the first step to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health.

In honor of those living with a mental health condition, NAMI will spend the next week sharing why listening matters. Visit their site here and commit to listening. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those struggling with mental health. As I state in the video below, your mental health is important to me and to the Community College of Baltimore County.