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Davis, California

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Improving the Mental Health Grade

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE
HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

UC Davis B- highest among UC’s

A statewide study published earlier this month by the UC Student Association (UCSA) found that on average, UC’s are not adequately addressing their communities’ mental health problems, highlighting the need for more financial investment in counseling and therapeutic services. UC Davis scored the highest in the UC system, with a ‘B-’, a result that reflects relatively high marks in accessibility and diversity. But the increasing prevalence of mental health issues among college students demands further attention from officials and students alike.

By investing more in resources offered by the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), the UC Office of the President and Davis administrators can dramatically improve the lives of students seeking help. SHCS has been criticized in the past for grievances including long wait times, an inability to follow up after appointments and a lack of staff diversity that prevents certain populations, like veterans, from receiving the specialized care they deserve.

The main factor driving down the letter grade assigned to so many campuses was a low score in accessibility, measured in part by the location of facilities, employee-student ratio and average time and distance to outside care providers. While their counseling services are free, SHCS only provides a limited amount of appointments to students before making referrals to professionals in the Davis community. Increasing the amount of free appointments can better help students work through their problems with a staff member they can grow to trust in time.

But administrators alone should not be held accountable for building a robust mental health network. Students wield significant power as well, having a say in ASUCD elections and how they choose to educate themselves. Two incoming ASUCD senators — Sofia Molodanof and Samantha Chiang — were elected in part for platforms that prioritized mental health issues. Molodanof had the novel idea of instituting a 24-hour non-urgent stress line that could be easily accommodated by the university. Chiang, in a somewhat less feasible plan, hopes to mandate mental health training for all professors.

Whether implemented or not, these plans reflect a desire by students to normalize the culture surrounding mental health. It’s true that the numbers showing a rise in mental health issues can be partially attributed to an increasing willingness among students to report their concerns. This kind of cultural shift will inevitably improve the accuracy of diagnosing disorders and reduce the stigma surrounding seeking help.

The Editorial Board encourages students to use campus resources, like The Mind Spa, and student-run clubs like UC Davis National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which provides free training in mental health literacy. In addition, we believe the administration has an obligation to act in a way that aligns with student needs. Emotional well-being can no longer sit on the back burner.

As a whole, the UC received averaged a ‘C’ grade across its campuses. This is unacceptable. Any student would be disappointed to receive that grade on a final.

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