Bill aims to raise funds for mental health care

By Mark Rivera

Students with mental health on the mind might soon find an improvement in University counseling.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act in July. If passed, the bill will create a federal grant program making funds available to colleges and universities for outreach, identification and treatment of students with mental health problems, according to the American Psychological Association’s Web site. Although extra funds for mental health on campus would be appreciated by the University Counseling Center and McKinley Health Center, the University already has a wide range of options for those in need.

“With more funding, we would be less stretched,” said Deidre Weathersby, clinical counselor at the Counseling Center. “But we have an incredibly talented staff.”

The center utilizes 20 to 22 clinicians, mental health care professionals who lead group psychotherapy and individual therapy sessions, Weathersby said.

But whether or not mental health programs adequately serve the entire campus is unclear.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“I think everybody on campus would say ‘I wish (treatment) was a little better,’ but compared to the surrounding community, it’s 10 times better,” said Dr. David Lawrance, medical director for the McKinley Health Center.

“If there’s an emergency, we will see you today,” he said.

However, if there’s a problem that neither organization can properly handle, they will not hesitate to refer individuals to community mental health facilities who can meet their needs.

Weathersby said they work closely with the community and the McKinley Health Center.

Both Weathersby and Lawrance agreed that if any funds were to come, they would be used for a larger clinician staff.

However, Ravi Yada, a freshman in Engineering, thought that if funds were to aid University mental health programs, they should be spent on advertising.

He said that if all mental health programs were more like “ACE IT,” the Counseling Center’s mandatory alcohol awareness program, more people would know where to go when they face problems.

Rohit Soni, sophomore in Engineering, agreed.

“People should know about (the center),” he said. “I’m a sophomore, and I didn’t even know about it.”

But increasing student education about mental health is a top priority for the center.

“Many of our outreach programs are educational,” Weathersby said.

The center offers a program to train para-professionals, students from all departments and majors who want to help their peers, she said.

Although it is difficult to satisfy every student mental health need, the center is hopeful.

“The truth is, everybody who needs help doesn’t walk through our doors,” Weathersby said. “We want people to realize they are part of a community, and if we all learn our roles, we can look out for one another.”