Editorial board encourages university to prioritize student well-being with enhanced mental health services
While mental health is always important to consider, the month of May specifically marks Mental Health Awareness Month – a time to promote mental health advocacy and support for people with mental illnesses. Although the pandemic has shed light on the prevalence and severity of mental health issues in our time, more needs to be done to help those in need get the resources they deserve.
With recent requests resident assistants (RAs) for increased mental health support, it’s clear that not everyone on campus is getting the mental health care they need. Despite being on call for long periods and responsible for a group of undergraduate students, some RAs express feelings of not being supported by the university regarding their mental health needs. In such a trying position that lacks clear boundaries between work and personal life, the university should do more to ensure that the welfare of ARs is a priority.
While the mental health issues of groups such as PRs and student athletes were recently discussed, the mental health of all UC Davis students should be supported. As of December 5, 2020, 64.8% of UC Davis undergraduates reported feeling overwhelming anxiety, while 49% said they felt so depressed they couldn’t function. The survey yielded slightly lower but similar results for UC Davis graduate students.
Although these figures were reported during online learning, it was only an increase of 3.3% and 5.5% for undergraduates compared to 2015 for anxiety and depression, respectively. With so much of the student body struggling with mental health issues, it’s appalling that there aren’t more university-wide efforts to address this pervasive problem.
This can be, in part, attributed to the nationwide shortage of therapists that has impacted the UC system. According to Kaiser Health News, demand for mental health services has increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic, leaving universities looking for therapists. This shortage coupled with the aggregation of mental health issues due to long periods of isolation and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic – not to mention the Russian-Ukrainian war and increase in mass shootings — means that it is more important than ever to act to increase the accessibility of mental health resources.
UC Davis students can currently access mental health resources through Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), which offers a range of counseling services such as individual counselling, group services and skills workshops, in addition to online services. Although these counseling sessions are administered as short-term therapy, therapists at UC Davis are able to refer patients to professionals in the Davis and Sacramento area who provide long-term care. In addition to the SHCS, the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center offers various resources such as immediate mental health services, resources, and helplines on campus and in the community.
Although students – including those on the editorial board – seem to have had varying experiences with SHCS, it is important to recognize that different groups of people on campus have different mental health needs. With such a diverse student body, students need more culturally aware and linguistically competent therapists. Having a therapist who understands a student’s background is extremely important for the student to feel comfortable enough to talk about their mental health.
The university should do more to prioritize the welfare of students so that they can more comfortably seek and obtain the help they may need. Taking care of your mental health should always be of the utmost importance, but especially in such a stressful and uncertain time.
Any student can schedule individual counseling sessions with Student Health and Counseling Services by calling 1 (530) 752-2349. The 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone number is 1(800)273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to speak confidentially with a crisis counsellor. Speak to a qualified advisor, available 24/7, through The Trevor Project at 1(866)488-7386. The Yolo County 24-hour crisis line is 1 (530) 756-5000.
Written by: Editorial Board