UC Davis has yet to address counselor deficit
UC Davis has recently promoted Crisis Text Line, a free and confidential mental health service for students. This service connects students with a trained volunteer within minutes. A student buckling under stress can simply pick up their phone and text the keyword “RELATE” to 741741.
Through Crisis Text Line, students are able to engage in a texting conversation with a crisis counselor and relieve some of their anxieties, worries and pain. These conversations are meant to calm students and lead them toward a more healthy and safe mindset — often so that they no longer present a threat to themselves or others.
The Editorial Board recognizes the potential of the Crisis Text Line and believes that it could function as a stepping stone for other forms of counseling. However, it is not a substitute for in-person counseling. While texting a counselor may get students over a hurdle or through a breakdown, its interactions are limited and aren’t necessarily enough to help students combat chronic stress or mental health disorders.
The Crisis Text Line, though undeniably a valuable resource, does not diminish the importance of having more counselors available through Student Health and Counseling Services. Currently, UC Davis has 28.5 counselors. As the student population continues to grow, this number falls further below standards for mental health. The shortage of counselors — as well as the underpayment of current counselors — are issues that have repercussions for both students and staff. Although the university made plans to hire 12 new counselors in 2016, the Davis community is still waiting for those plans to become direct action.
Students should be presented with several counseling options so that they can choose to manage stress according to what makes them feel most comfortable, visible and secure — and each of those counseling options should be in optimal condition. We hope that while promoting this resource the university also takes addresses the glaring issues in our current mental health services. The Crisis Text Line does not eliminate the need for better mental health services or give the university a pass on fulfilling its overdue duties.
It does, however, help those in dire need. It provides an immediate outlet for those struggling in silence. We encourage every Aggie to use the Crisis Text Line, as well as additional counseling services, if they ever need support. To our fellow Aggies, you are never alone. And to our university officials, let us not forget that texting for mental health services should serve as a beneficial addition to an already robust student health program, not lay the foundation for it.
Written by: The Editorial Board