The Editorial Board encourages the university to prioritize student well-being with improved mental health services
Although mental health is always important to consider, the month of May specifically marks Mental Health Awareness Month — a time to promote advocacy for mental health and support individuals with mental illnesses. While the pandemic has shed light on the prevalence and severity of mental health issues in this current age, there is still a lot to be done to help those in need obtain the resources that they deserve.
With recent requests from resident assistants (RAs) for increased mental health support, it is clear that not everyone on campus is receiving the mental health care that they need. Despite being on-call for long periods and responsible for a group of undergraduate students, some RAs express feeling unsupported by the university in terms of their mental health needs. In such a taxing position which lacks clear work-life boundaries, the university should be doing more to make sure RAs’ well-being is prioritized.
While the mental health concerns of groups such as RAs and student athletes have recently been brought up, the mental health of all UC Davis students should be supported. As of Dec. 5, 2020, 64.8% of UC Davis undergraduate students reported feeling overwhelming anxiety, while 49% reported feeling so depressed they could not function. The survey yielded slightly lower but similar results for UC Davis graduate students.
Although these numbers were reported during online learning, this was only a 3.3% and 5.5% increase for undergraduates from 2015 for anxiety and depression, respectively. With such a large portion of the student body experiencing mental health concerns, it is appalling that there is not more of a university-wide push to address this pervasive issue.
This may be, in part, attributed to the nationwide shortage of therapists which has impacted the UC system. According to Kaiser Health News, the demand for mental health services has increased exponentially since the pandemic began, leaving universities scrambling for therapists. This shortage coupled with the aggregation of mental health concerns due to long periods of isolation and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic — not to mention the Russia-Ukraine war and rise in mass shootings — means action towards increasing accessible mental health resources is important now more than ever.
UC Davis students can currently access mental health resources through Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS), which offers a range of counseling services such as individual counseling, group services and skills workshops, in addition to online services. While these counseling sessions are administered as short-term therapy, UC Davis therapists are able to refer patients to professionals in the Davis and Sacramento area who offer long-term care. In addition to SHCS, the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center offers various resources such as immediate mental health services, campus and community resources and hotlines.
Although students — including those on the Editorial Board — seem to have had varying experiences with SHCS, it is important to acknowledge that different groups of people on campus have different mental health needs. With such a diverse student body, students need more culturally aware and linguistically competent therapists. Having a therapist who understands a student’s background is extremely important in making the student feel comfortable enough to share about their mental health.
The university should do more to prioritize the well-being of students so that they can more comfortably seek and obtain the help they may need. Taking care of one’s mental health should always be of the utmost importance, but especially in such a stressful and uncertain time.
Any student can schedule individual counseling sessions with the Student Health and Counseling Services by calling 1(530)752-2349. The phone number for the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1(800)273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to confidentially chat with a Crisis Counselor. Speak with a trained counselor, available 24/7, through The Trevor Project at 1(866)488-7386. Yolo County’s 24-hour crisis line is 1(530)756-5000.
Written by: The Editorial Board