BY SHARON MAI
College students seek change for
mental health programs
The state of mental health care at college campuses has become an escalating crisis. Statistically, the number of college students seeking mental health treatment is on the rise. Nevertheless, mental health programs at various universities have failed to respond properly.
The University of Missouri is one of many college campuses across the nation that faces an overflowing number of students seeking treatment. Quite honestly, our university merely does not have the proper funding and resources to help every student in need.
It is an understandable situation, however, very problematic when it runs the risk of putting lives on the line. Suicide prevention awareness organizations increasingly emerge at many colleges, including our very own. Despite that, there is still an appallingly large amount of students put on a wait list at the University of Missouri.
Numerous college students seek counseling services that our universities promise and provide. Yet, the wait lists prevent any students who may be plagued with suicidal thoughts from getting the help they need in an according time and manner.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that every one in four individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 live with some form of mental illness. Consequently, it isn’t surprising that we often hear of tragic stories representative of these statistics.
At Northwestern University, it unfortunately took the suicide of Jason Arkin for the campus to finally realize that their mental health program had problems needing fixing.
Had there not been a wait list acting as an obstacle preventing Jason from getting the help he needed, perhaps we would not have lost another precious life to the invisible, but deadly, illness.
We cannot wait any longer. It’s time to take action. Our universities need to change their approach to helping our students fighting mental illness.
The mental health programs at our universities have a number of issues requiring alterations:
Students are often put on a list with utterly long wait times before a school counselor is able to see them and attend to their calls for help.
Stigmas regarding mental illness and seeking treatment need to be terminated.
These problems have a shared dilemma. Money.
College mental health programs lack the proper resources to help students and, as a result, there is limited availability of (free) counseling. Many times, students are forced to consider leaving school to get the help they need, because they are not being provided the appropriate accommodation and treatment where they are.
These students then are often faced with the common stigma surrounding seeking help for the concealed illnesses they may be dealing with.
A cohesive strategy needs to be put in place by all colleges. The major problem is that mental health programs are not prioritized high enough.
For a school to plan and install a successful mental health program, there needs to be financially accessible counseling options and an improved climate on campus to eradicate stigmas linking vulnerability and weakness to mental illness.
No legal mandate is required of colleges in regards to mental health programs.
In less technical terms, the government or any other established body has not implemented requirements on upper-level education to provide proper mental health programs to counter the rapidly growing rates of students seeking counseling.
If a greater pressure existed to more vigorously encourage colleges to make mental health a higher priority, the situation at hand could be a lot better.
In response, the University of Missouri, as well as other colleges, must actively combat these issues. The number of college students seeking the counseling services that these schools provide should not be outdistancing the actual resources themselves.