Lilly Endowment awards Notre Dame grant to advance student mental health

Notre Dame dome at sunrise
Mc 7

(CSSR is providing research design and analysis for this Lilly-funded project.)

The University of Notre Dame has been awarded $2.5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to advance a holistic approach to student mental health that promotes well-being, resilience and restoration for students and caregivers alike.

The grant is part of Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, a $108.2 million Lilly Endowment initiative aimed at helping the leaders of Indiana’s 38 colleges and universities plan for and address future challenges and opportunities.

“Mental health problems affect thousands of college students each year, contributing to growing rates of anxiety and depression among all young adults. This is especially true now, with the added stress and anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “This generous grant from Lilly Endowment will help us to increase access to mental health services across campus, so that every Notre Dame student may thrive.”

Student mental health is a key challenge across higher education. Surveys indicate as many as one in three college students experience a mental health condition serious enough to require counseling. One in four adults ages 18 to 24 considered suicide in June, according to a CDC survey.

Notre Dame currently offers counseling and other mental health services, including crisis prevention, through the University Counseling Center, University Health Services, the Center for Student Support and Care and the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being — all part of the Division of Student Affairs.

This newest grant, which builds on a previous $250,000 planning grant, will be used to implement a broad-based approach to student mental health that complements the existing model with added services and resources at the residence hall level, where much of student life is centered.

Specifically, this approach will build a culture of wellness, create early intervention tools for hall staff, reintegrate students and provide support post-crisis, provide restorative practices for hall staff and disseminate the model to other schools.

“This remarkable grant will significantly enhance our ability to serve students with mental health needs from within the hall communities they call home,” said Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for student affairs. “I’m so grateful for the collaborative efforts between Residential Life, our Health and Wellness unit and Foundation Relations to create a grant that benefits both our residents and hall staff.”

Lilly Endowment awarded $6.2 million in planning grants under phase I of the Charting the Future initiative. Phase II included nearly $62 million in implementation grants. Grants under a third phase, which is competitive, will be awarded in 2021. Those grants will support collaborative efforts that seek to have large-scale impact on the ability of higher education institutions in Indiana to fulfill their educational missions.

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons of Eli Lilly and Co. The endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. It supports the causes of religion, education and community development.

For more information about care and wellness at Notre Dame, including student mental health, visit

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on October 19, 2020.