PALO ALTO (KPIX) — Stanford University is pledging to hire more counselors and therapists, following the suicide death of a student athlete last week.
In a Facebook post, the university said the past few weeks have been “heartbreaking”.
This post drew attention to soccer star Katie Meyer, who died by suicide on March 1; to Jacob Meisel and Rose Wong who also committed suicide last year; and to Dylan Simmons, who was found dead at his college dorm in January.
“All were accomplished and loving students who we will always remember,” the university said. “We want to recognize that these tragedies, in the context of the pandemic and the outbreak of war in Ukraine, can seem particularly overwhelming and unbearable. For all members of our community who are hurting, please know that any feelings that arise within you are normal and need time to show through.
Stanford began recruiting counselors and therapists into its “Counselling and Psychological Services” (CAPS). Some of the new counselors and therapists will focus solely on the athletics department.
Sophomore Maya Harvey, a beach volleyball player, said student-athletes often need extra support.
“Being an athlete can have a real physical impact, not just on your body but also on your mind,” Harvey said. “All my friends, I can turn to anyone on staff and faculty. I just sat down with a teacher the other day and they helped me a lot. Everyone is in the same boat right now.
Avi Vetter, who also plays beach volleyball, said it was important to be able to get help quickly, without any repercussions.
“We’re balancing a lot and there’s a lot of stress coming from a lot of different directions,” Vetter said. “As long as athletes and students feel they can easily access these resources and it won’t have any negative impact on them, such as in their sports or their studies, then I think it’s a great idea.”
Stanford released a statement:
Like other colleges and universities across the country, Stanford has seen a surge in demand for mental health counseling and other wellness resources over the past two years. Mental health remains not only an ongoing challenge, but our most pressing priority.
The increase in mental distress has been exacerbated by the challenges of the pandemic. We have responded by expanding the resources available to all students and specific student communities, including varsity athletes, students of all genders and sexual identities, students from diverse ethnic, racial, and religious communities, and students from specific disciplines such as as medicine and law.
Over the past two years, we have increased our clinical staff by 20% to reduce wait times and launched a wellness coaching program with a non-clinical support service for graduate and undergraduate students. Last week, we announced funding for additional permanent clinical counseling and therapy positions for CAPS and the Athletic Department. Our student affairs office is also convening experts to consider other measures that would be helpful beyond clinical support.
While we have many resources available to students, we also launched a rigorous communications campaign last year to make this information widely available to students, faculty, staff, and families through college newsletters, media social and in-person informational events.
Stanford students who need help can call (650) 723-3785, anytime, day or night