Editorial: Improved mental health resources are only half the battle

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Taylor Nguyen/THE REVIEW
The Review’s weekly editorial.

Throughout high school, most students are led to believe that going off to college is supposed to be a four-year-long, fun-filled and alcohol-fueled extravaganza. Those first few weeks in the dorm, away from your parents and free to do whatever you want, are painted as some of the best and brightest of your life.

Reality, however, does not frequently mirror this image. Being ripped away from the place you had previously called home for 18 years only to be constantly bombarded by difficult assignments, decisions directly affecting your future and social responsibilities is a more difficult transition than most first assume.

As a result, students often find themselves anxious and overwhelmed with few resources to cope with this shift or those that follow. Students who already struggle with depression or anxiety may be confronted with even more feelings of hopelessness or despair and, as a result, struggle to adequately adjust to campus culture. During an era in which rates of student depression, anxiety and suicide have been steadily increasing, the university should provide more mental health resources for students in order to assist with this adjustment and the stresses associated with the college experience.

At yesterday’s Faculty Senate meeting, the Student Government Association (SGA) introduced a resolution regarding university protocol for situations following the death of a student. The resolution pledges to require professors of courses in which the student was enrolled to have professional counselors present during the class period following the student’s death, as well as a protocol for notifying the student body of the passing of a fellow student.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously by SGA, should be taken seriously by the administration. Because our campus has unfortunately been confronted by issues regarding suicide and student death multiple times over the course of the past few years, a protocol is necessary. These steps may afford fellow students solace during a confusing and painful time, as well as alert others to the resources that are already in place for those who may be struggling with their own mental health issues.

In terms of potential solutions, there should be more mental health resources available for students on campus. At universities across the country there has been a recent push for the availability of services intended to help students cope with their anxieties, depression, changes in behavior and academic or career-related concerns. At a university as wealthy as the University of Delaware, there should not be a cap to the amount of free counseling and psychiatry sessions offered by the Center for Counseling and Human Development. The university should be able and willing to balance the available resources with the vast demand for care, especially because the aforementioned concerns are affecting such a large proportion of young adults.

Solutions such as therapy dogs and self-care events are often short term and unfortunately superficial, whereas counseling may provide more benefits to someone who is struggling with anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. These “stress-less” events are meant to brand the university as in touch with students problems which could not be further from the truth.

Evidently, there is something innate within the college system that is a causing students such extreme anxiety and pain. As a result, there should be a formal assessment of campus climate in order to discover at least some of the root causes of this pressing problem. The proposed SGA resolution should be passed by the Faculty Senate and implemented by the administration.

It is the university’s responsibility to provide more effective mental health resources and illustrate an ongoing dedication to ensuring the mental health, stability and comfort of each student.

Weekly editorials are developed by The Review’s editorial board, representing the majority opinion of staff members, the Executive Editor and the Editor in Chief. This week’s editorial was developed by Editorial Editor Alex Eichenstein, who can be reached at aeichen@udel.edu.

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