Rosanna Tamburri at University Affairs reported the following welcome news last week:

Amid growing concerns over the mental health of students and other members of the university community, a group of university presidents has formed a working group to look at the role universities can play in addressing and dealing with mental illness on campus.

The article sets out some very important information about mental illness, the current role of universities and how educational institutions should shift their approach. 

There is a strong connection between mental illness and legal troubles confronting universities.  First, many students either enter university life with a mental illness or the illness comes to the fore during their time on campus.  Those students need to be accommodated, and they may have a valid claim against their university if the appropriate resources are not devoted to assisting them.  Second, many of the students and professors that start lawsuits against universities are or may be mentally ill, and having the right assistance in place could avoid litigation on other matters.

Mental illness is tragic because, among other reasons, it is often invisible.  Worse, those who suffer from a mental illness are often dismissed as difficult, troublesome or unenviable, and many of them (by definition) are not even aware of the very fact that they are ill. 

Universities – for their own self-interest and for the sake of the welfare of their students, faculty and community stakeholders – should have been moving in this direction long ago.  This is important progress in the right direction.