A plea for better mental health resources

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The Scholars of Excellence competition awards 10 prospective students a full-tuition scholarship on the basis of their academic excellence. Photo by Henry Gramling.

When one is learning how to be on one’s own, balancing the hard things of life can prove to be difficult. For example, students may struggle with stress, test-anxiety and navigating life as a new adult. All of these struggles are valid and deserve to be addressed and helped.

However, long-term mental health struggles among college students is a prominent issue. According to the National Education Association, as of 2023, two-thirds of college students meet the criteria of having one mental health issue. The most common mental health issues that are found among college students are depression and anxiety.

As students of the liberal arts, we are studying human dignity and how precious it is. Because of this, we have no excuse to ignore our duty to advocate for those in need. The UD Counseling Center does amazing work on the issues and stressors first presented but they unfortunately fall short when it comes to providing resources for those struggling long-term.

The UD Counseling Center offers a disclaimer on its website: “While no problem is too big or too small for counseling, our purpose is not to provide intensive treatment for severe, chronic, long-term mental illnesses, or specialized mental health struggles. If you or someone you know struggles with any of these, we can help connect to the specialists necessary to treat these difficulties.”

However, this disclaimer is not always put into practice. One student, in discussing how the center’s service can be improved, spoke on how this disclaimer was not followed through in her case. She spoke of her struggles with mental illness and how she had reached out for help but the counseling center did not refer her to a different service as promised. The student was initially unable to receive the help she needed.

When one struggles with mental illness, it can be a challenge for them to ask for help and even harder for them to find it. It is incredible that the student was able to pick herself up from a very tiring and disheartening service and find herself a private practice.

To see what the university can feasibly do to offer improvements, one can look at precedents set by similar universities. The Cardinal Newman Society recommends col leges who have an outstanding commitment to a faithful Catholic education, and lists schools that align with UD’s purpose. In looking at what these universities are able to offer their students, one can begin to see what UD could offer. Although these universities may also have weak counseling centers and only claim to offer quality resources, they still have offered different outlooks on mental health services through their writing.

 Several universities that are similar to UD offer medical and psychiatric referrals, an initial assessment interview and the development of an individualized treatment plan. They also offer easy access to several emergency lines and links to local mental health resources for when the counseling center is closed.

The University of Dallas offers short term counseling, which is difficult to get access to because of poor scheduling, referrals which are not always given and the CA R E report, where you can report concerns for someone else’s well-being. Not every university has perfect counseling services, but one can look at what is offered elsewhere to understand what can be improved.

With all of this in mind, I would encourage attention towards the improvement of our counseling ser- vices. The environment at the University of Dallas ought to be commended for how seriously mental health is taken by students and professors alike. This serious attitude towards mental health allows for the encouragement of those seeking help, which is so important.

However, there is a disconnect between the environment and the services. Services for mental health ought to be easily available, and when the university lacks resources to help the individual in need, they ought to provide guidance to receive help outside of the university. Change is possible, we just have to pay attention to what can be improved to better serve those in need.

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