I have always been passionate about mental health awareness and support. While I think that mental health should be talked about and supported at a younger age than college, I think it is important for a university to have mental health services.
Coming to UMass, I was excited to hear about the services provided by the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health. It was exciting to see a service on campus to assist students in such a complex and stigmatized area of their lives.
Now, some of my peers weren’t lucky enough to discover these services early on (at a school so large, CCPH’s outreach can get buried). But, even those who have heard of or taken advantage of CCPH don’t always have the best luck. The center gives students four free sessions of counseling and provides support groups. This may sound great, but for many students, this is the end of their psychological support.
While some students are able to afford outside therapy or treatment, many students are unable to receive psychological care unless they receive it for free. Most mental health issues take longer to deal with than with just four sessions. Another issue is that some students may need to see someone right away, but they are unable to get in to see someone due to insufficient staff.
Now this is not the fault of the CCPH. This is a problem with administration of funding and staffing. With such a huge student body, one would think that more resources would be allocated to the CCPH to assist students struggling.
Due to the understaffing and the funding issues, there are complications getting in for appointments and getting the proper care at the correct time. With only 21staff members and over 28,000 students, getting in for an appointment and taking advantage of resources and opportunities is difficult to fit into a student’s schedule. Sometimes these issues lead to students not wanting to go back.
Students should not have to worry about the cost of their visit or hold off a visit because they are trying to save their four visits for a matter they see as more pressing in the future. The CCPH is in a building that is far from the center of campus, extremely understaffed and not always able to serve students in a timely manner.
My purpose for this article was to point out how complex the issue of mental health is and that the University is not taking the issue seriously. When I say the University, I mean the whole University. I mean the professors, the Resident Assistants, the Registered Student Organizations and the administration should be supporting mental health awareness. This is not a new issue. Time and time again, the Collegian has published columns on issues with mental health and CCPH’s location.
It is not enough to put a flyer up with a phone number. It is not enough for a student to be sacrificing their mental health because they cannot afford more than the four free appointments. It is not enough to say that we have these centers. We should be showing what these centers can do and provide for students. Students should not be scared of being judged nor should they be denied resources.
This is not to say that the CCPH and UMass do not help students in terms of psychological services. Many students benefit from these services everyday. But if the University wants all students to be able to seek help and continue receiving help, they should be funding it.
Many schools, such as University of Maryland, are unable to keep students for long-term treatment, instead offering short-term treatment. But even giving students a few more sessions or a few more opportunities for treatment could go a long way.
Not every student is going to need mental health services and that is okay. Some students are going to need mental health services and that is okay. It is just like physical health services where resources and materials should be adequately provided. The University should take care of mental health the way it takes care of physical health. Student mental health is a vital aspect of a succesful school year.
In my opinion, the University could do so much more than they are doing now. We can start with funding and more resources. And if there are existing resources, make them known. I do not want to be searching and searching for posters.
I want answers on how to approach mental health and I want UMass to take the lead.
Emilia Beuger is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]