Editorial | Mental health counseling at UI requires restructuring
December 10, 2019
The University is home to nearly 34,000 undergraduate students and roughly 10,000 graduate students. As an institution of higher education, it is little more than a stress factory for its inhabitants — the vast majority of whom are between 18 and 22 years old, smack dab in the middle of the age group at the highest risk for suicide among adolescents.
So it makes sense, then, that the University has an entire Counseling Center to help students combat mental illness and thoughts of suicide. Sounds great, right? Well, once one starts trying to use these resources, however, the facade crumbles like a stale cookie.
For its roughly half a hundred thousand tenants, the University has a mere handful of therapists and only two psychiatrists to meet the needs of the entire student body. Does this really seem like enough mental health specialists to handle tens of thousands of anxious, stressed-out college students?
Additionally, appointments at the Counseling Center are given on a same-day basis. Students are encouraged to call as early as 7:50 a.m. because after the therapists are booked, they won’t take any more patients.
The Counseling Center serves only as a temporary fix, and students can only see a therapist for so many sessions before they’re referred to an off-campus office. But college students are notoriously broke, and if you don’t have money or insurance to switch therapists, that leaves you exhausted and without the help you need.
As young adults, college students are taking their first real steps in the world and, as proper fledgling mammals, are bound to slip and fall from time to time. It doesn’t make any sense that there are fewer than 50 people charged with helping 50,000 students regain their footing.
Parents charge the University with the protection of their nascent adults, whether that be physical, emotional or mental, and the provision of such limited resources for on campus counseling means it is failing in its charge.
Suicides are now the second leading cause of death for college students; thus, it’s incumbent on college deans, along with faculty members, to understand how they can make a difference.
The “Be Well” magazine is just the latest slap in the face for students struggling with mental health. While the idea of educating students about the steps they can take to avoid mental illness and “be well” mentally is sound, students deserve more than lifeless words printed on paper to help them through their issues.
Those between the ages of 15-24 are at the highest risk of attempting to commit suicide, making college students the most susceptible. The University’s counseling center provides an extensive list of resources on their website, but the question is, at what point will University leaders hear the cries of help from thousands of students in need and at what cost? A magazine isn’t a prescription, and self-help literature can’t balance chemicals in your brain.
Chancellor Jones, it’s time for you to hear us. We don’t need mental health leaflets; we need more psychiatrists.