This past week, an email was sent out to Ohio State students regarding a student that had thrown themselves off of a parking garage on campus, killing himself. After this email started to circulate, the twitterverse exploded in a movement to prioritize mental health on campuses.
Students started wondering why it can sometimes take up to three weeks to get in to see the university counselor and even when they do get in to see the counselor, they receive mediocre care and are often referred to a different practice.
Speaking from personal experience, money is a huge issue when it comes to taking action in bettering your own mental health. The convenience of a school counselor allows for students to get the help they need without having to worry about paying a copay. But, when a school counselor says they can no longer treat you and then refers you to an off campus counselor, money becomes an issue.
This happened my freshman year at Witt. I had made only one visit to the on campus counselor, was referred to someone off campus for further care and was only able to manage a small handful of visits to the off campus counselor because I could no longer afford it. Thankfully, I was surrounded by amazingly caring friends and family who helped me through that rough patch but, what if I had needed more counseling?
This is not an uncommon issue on campuses, even Wittenberg. One sophomore student, who asked to remain anonymous, discussed her experiences with the counseling here on campus as “disingenuine” and “routine.”
The student felt as if she were giving the counselor clear signs that she needed more help and attention than the usual, “so how does that make you feel?” But, she continually received attention and care that felt routine and obligatory.
This conversation really struck a nerve with me. Wittenberg has always seemed, to me, to be a university that places a well-deserved emphasis on mental health. With established programs and groups including NAMI, Tiger Health and the Womyn’s Center, Witt makes an outward effort to improve the overall mental health of the university.
And yet, students are receiving mediocre help where it really matters. Of course, I know these sort of improvements need funds and take time but, I think there can certainly be more of an actual emphasis on bettering the mental health services here.
So, instead of bringing out dogs during exam week for students to relieve their stress (don’t get me wrong the dogs are great), let’s spend some time figuring out how we can make the services for students better.