Readers’ Forum: The university’s mental health crisis

A student struggles with coursework. Many students struggle with mental health as a result of this, among other reasons. (BYU Photo)

Being a college student is not easy. It requires time management skills, perseverance and dedication. On top of that, we all have lives outside of school, like jobs, friends and family.

But that’s not all; this is a time in our lives when we decide what career paths we want to go down. Just writing about it is starting to make my head hurt. Because of all of the stressors that affect college students’ day-to-day life, it’s no wonder that so many struggle with mental health issues.

This leaves me with one important question: What are universities doing about it? The reality is that there aren’t many resources out there for students who need mental help. The plain and simple truth is that colleges need more effective resources for mental health.

In order to understand how we can aid students with mental health issues, we need to understand what mental health actually is. Although mental health is a very complex thing that’s hard to define, we can look at a couple of things that heavily influence it. Some of these things include physical health, a stable home environment and a feeling of purpose and community. Living a college lifestyle, and especially transitioning into one, heavily influences every single one of those aspects.

Now that we have a general idea of what mental health is, we can begin to understand how to cater to students who may be struggling. The first step is identifying what is causing the student to struggle and why. It could be that a lack of time is preventing quality time with friends, or a lack of motivation has made school seem impossible. It could be something as simple as someone feeling lonely. Whatever it may be, it must be identified and a plan must be formed to remedy the issue.

Some might ask themselves, “Why should universities provide any resources for mental health at all? They’re not responsible for our health.” This statement does hold truth to it; students are responsible for their own health whether that be mental or physical. While this is true, I believe that universities would actually benefit from providing mental health resources for students. Poor mental health can easily derail any student’s academic success, and this can lead to them failing out of the university. If the problem becomes big enough, many students will fail out of the university, thus resulting in a drop in the graduation rate. This means that providing an efficient mental health program will not only aid students in becoming happier and succeeding in academics but will also boost the graduation rate of the university.

So now we understand what mental health is and what influences it, and we understand what we need to do to resolve these issues, but now we get to the hard part, which is actually integrating this into universities. Many universities do provide counseling, but it is very hard to access. Even finding a counselor to meet with is difficult, and then when one is found they can be unavailable for anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. A solution to this problem is online counseling. This can make meetings much faster and more convenient for both the counselor and the student. If universities were to take mental help more seriously, the welfare of students would be so much better off. In the end, we’re all human beings, and while it’s important for us to succeed at university, it is even more important for us to be happy and healthy.

Spencer Carlile

St. George, Utah

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