Mental health on campus

Staff Editorial

Last semester, a first-year illustrator on staff, Cole Thornton, was struggling with the transition to college.

The stresses Thornton experienced were routine: balancing the buffet of social opportunities with new academic expectations.

Like many students looking for professional help, he reached out to Counseling and Psychiatry Services.

It was two weeks before he was able to get a half-hour consultation. And then it was another two weeks before he could get in for an initial appointment.

For someone struggling with mental health, a month can feel like forever.

We know the reason behind the wait time: CAPS hired just one new counselor between 2007 and 2016 for a 30 percent uptick in center visits.

Many students at our University feel comfortable reaching out for mental health help.

But to keep up with students’ willingness to pursue counseling and psychiatry, the University must change how it provides these services.

Counseling services fall under the jurisdiction of the Center for Health and Wellbeing, and since Dr. Jon Porter left last semester, the position of director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing has been vacant.

While the University searches for a new director, we hope they consider larger structural changes, too.

SGA President Chris Petrillo has pushed for CAPS and other student health services to be given spaces on central campus.

At present, CAPS has one location in Jacobs House on Main Street and another in Christie-Wright-Patterson on Redstone campus.

These are not accessible locations for many students. When central campus was under construction last semester, the University missed an opportunity to make mental health services more visible.

When students are feeling discouraged, any roadblock on the path to getting mental health services can turn people away completely.

We call upon the University and board of trustees to prioritize expanding mental health services to meet student demand.

While they plan budgets, construction and hiring, we urge them to pay attention to mental health services.