Starting spring quarter, students may see new information on syllabi that could provide them with excusable absences for mental health reasons.
Outgoing ASUCD Vice President Molly Fluet has been working with the Health and Education Program (HEP) to encourage professors of all departments to add Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) information on syllabi in order to raise mental health awareness. Fluet hopes that with more awareness, professors will start to accept notes from CAPS as excusable absences.
“We have discussed that students with issues of mental health that have anxiety attacks and have become overwhelmed sometimes need to go to emergency CAPS services,” Fluet said. “Professors on campus have been known to not accept that as an excuse.”
Professor of political science Scott Gartner, has been an exception to this generalization. He has been handing out CAPS pamphlets to students in all his classes for the past six years.
“Since I provide a challenging class academically that is stressful, I felt a responsibility to students in reaction to that stress,” Gartner said. “As a professor I see myself as a point of contact for students and university resources and to make students [more] aware of those resources.”
Professor Gartner already accepts notes from CAPS as an excusable absence, much like a medical note from a doctor.
Jana Mowrer, student wellness coordinator at Cowell Student Health Center, has been working with HEP to start giving presentations to all campus departments and faculty members in the spring.
“Not only do we want to educate the students on campus but we also want to educate the faculty members,” she said.
These presentations will outline ways that faculty members can integrate stress-reducing exercises and encourage successful study habits for students.
“If professors are more willing to discuss the resources available to students, I think students would take advantage of that more,” Fluet said.
Mowrer and Fluet both emphasize the importance of raising mental health awareness among college students, especially those that may be involved with many activities.
“With these demands such as school, work, family and social life and internships students are now more than ever becoming stressed out leading to physical and emotional illnesses that are not being dealt with,” said Mowrer in an e-mail interview. “This ultimately can lead to a student drifting farther from a healthy and balanced life style.”
Fluet agrees that student stress is an issue many students suffer from in a quarter system and is especially prominent in men who tend not to seek help as much as women.
“In a quarter system, we are so crunched, so stressed and some students just can’t handle it as much as other students, especially men. We find problems with men that they don’t talk about it at all, so their grades may start to suffer,” Fluet said.
Mowrer confirms that men are less likely to seek help for mental issues when needed, according to research done in 2007 at UC Davis.
“With our stigma at UC Davis that we have the highest suicide rate, which isn’t true, I just feel that mental health has always been an issue and students really need to know their resources available to them,” Fluet said.
According to a report done by the UC Board of Regents three years ago, UC Davis does in fact have the highest suicide rate of all UC campuses. However, according to Fluet, UC Davis counted all student suicides whether or not they occurred on campus while other UC schools only counted on campus suicides.
For more information on CAPS go to caps.ucdavis.edu or call their 24-hour consultation line at (530) 752-0871.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at email@example.com.