One in every four people ages 18-24 suffer from a mental health illness, according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness.They have also reported that college counseling centers have observed an increase in the prevalence and severity of mental health issues experienced by students. This number will only continue to rise if students aren’t provided with the sufficient health resources that they deserve.
The students at Chico State are lucky to have a reliable counseling center on campus. However, recent budget cuts pressure the center to deliver the same services they have offered in years prior, but with fewer resources.
In the summer of 2011 budget cuts placed the Counseling and Wellness Center and the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center under Student Health Services, which also runs the Student Health Center. This resulted in a loss of their state-funded support.
Students may be aware that the Student Health Center serves hundreds of patients every day, but a majority of students don’t consider how many people also utilize places like the counseling center and CADEC.
These three centers have been forced to share the funding from student health fees since 2011 and must resort to finding new ways of assisting as many students as possible without exceeding their budget.
It’s egregious to expect such large centers to share their funding when the student body is so dependent on them.
The counseling center will be offering eight new group sessions as of this spring in an attempt to work past the budget cuts and reach more students.
The groups will assist students with substance abuse, relationships, stress, anxiety, sexual assault, bipolar disorder, self-esteem, family and food issues.
While group sessions could be beneficial to those who enjoy sharing the problems they face with other students, others might not find group sessions as comforting.
I think it would be more difficult for students who encountered an issue like sexual assault to go into a group session to share their problem with complete strangers. There is always going to be fear of judgment.
It’s hard enough for most students to open up to one person, not to mention a whole group. The budget cuts put a strain on the counselors who want to help individual students, but don’t have the time or funding needed to do it.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported in 2013 that almost 73 percent of students living with a mental health condition experienced a mental health crisis on campus. However, 34.2 percent reported that their college did not know about their crisis.
Mike Malmon-Berg, PhD Clinical Psychologist at the College of Wooster stated that young adults experiencing a mental health issue without adequate treatment are more likely to receive lower GPAs or even drop out of college in his article, “The Impact of Mental Health Issues on the Student Learning Experience”.
We can only remain hopeful that the budget cuts don’t continue to affect our student body more than they already have, because the pressures and anxieties college students deal with on a daily basis will continue to be an issue.
Veronica De La Cruz can be reached at opinion [email protected] or @veronica_dlc on Twitter.