Mental health must be a priority on college campuses

Photo courtesy of Rowan University

Mental health services need to be more accessible on college campuses, especially during finals season.

Since the beginning of the semester, 10 members of Rowan University’s community, made up of students and faculty, have died, three of which from suicide. On Dec. 5, a student publicly attempted suicide that morning, causing much grief and dismay on the campus.

Rowan’s response on the matter was lacking. The university’s President Ali A. Houshmand wrote in a message that was emailed to students and faculty the day after the student’s attempt. 

“I join the University community in deepest concern for him, as well as those affected by this tragedy,” Houshmand stated. 

He continued to promote an event that was hosted by the campus’ Wellness Center later that day, but there was no mentioning of permanent action or reform. Immediately after, the campus made national news headlines, and tweets started rolling in from angry Rowan students, rightfully so.

“Stop covering up that there is a mental health crisis on your campus with therapy dogs and five-month waitlists to see a counselor,” Rowan student Maddy, with Twitter handle @madeline96_ tweeted after the president’s remarks, “I’m embarrassed to go to a school that pushes away their students when they are in distress instead of helping them.”

Another student, Simona (@SiMonalisa99) tweeted, “Students shouldn’t be on a waiting list to talk to counselors! Too many people have been turned away for you to advocate wellness center’s services.”

Students want the comfort of counseling services, particularly during finals season as it is the most stressful, vulnerable time for a college student. Many students are far from home and do not have a family to talk to, so allowing students to depend on mental health services should be sensibly managed.

The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that nearly 66 percent of college students living on campus said counseling services helped with their academic performance, and 65 percent of this group said their college’s services helped them stay in school.

This shows that proficient counseling services only benefit a student’s well being. If colleges like Rowan truly cared about their students, mental health services would receive more funding, they would have more employees and there would be no need for the constant ridicule of campus services not just at Rowan, but across the state and the nation.

With the lack of mental health specialists and services in New Jersey schools, it is harder than ever before for students to cope with the stress and anxiety that college living and finals season brings upon. 

There should be stricter laws requiring campuses to accommodate students in need. There are fatal consequences and colleges need to take more responsibility for it.