Mental health is a topic that affects everyone to some degree or another, whether it be depression, bipolar disorder or the all too common extreme amount of stress among students. Even if someone is not personally affected, everyone knows of a fellow friend or student who is. The Associated Students of The University of Utah (ASUU) recognizes this fact and is working to improve the mental health resources available to their student body by writing a letter to the faculty and staff of the U highlighting the need for improved resources.
The letter is partially meant to target the academic senate and the board of trustees, attempting to push them to speak to legislators. The goal is to “make sure this is on the top of legislators’ minds when they are going through the budgets and allocations,” ideally to aid in providing much needed resources to the counseling center at the U. It was written in response to conversations with students as well as the counseling center on campus, which revealed exactly how desperately the U is in need of better mental health services.
Some of the evidence that supports this need is discussed in the letter, as provided by the Counseling Center. For example, there has been an extreme increase in demand for the services offered by the counseling center and their professionals, yet from 2000-2015 there was an insufficient staffing increase to meet the demand.
Additionally, 56 percent of respondents expressed that the Counseling Centers services helped them remain enrolled as students.
Without the support of the counseling center, many students would be unable to access the help they need, whether it be due to cost, transportation or privacy. These issues are magnified by the Counseling Centers’ extreme wait times when making new patient appointments and the sheer number of students who request their services.
The University Counseling Center is located in the Student Services Building, room 426, and is open during standard business hours. To make an appointment with them, call 801-581-6826. They not only offer individual counseling, but also support groups, psychiatric services, group counseling and various resources through the Mindfulness Clinic.
In 2016, the senior class donated $12,500 to the Mindfulness Clinic to aid their expansion. This funding went toward the purchase of relaxation chairs, biofeedback kiosks and other items the clinic deemed necessary to grow.
Looking at how critical their office is only highlights the need for more funding and increased staffing, which is what the ASUU is attempting to do with their letter addressing the mental health needs of the student body.
“We hope that U students know that their student government is working on issues that affect the lives of so many, and that we hope to make a strong and positive impact for many years in the future,” said ASUU president Jack Bender.