Campus leaders came together this weekend to draft a list of demands for the University of Connecticut administration regarding mental health services on campus.
Including members of the Undergraduate Student Government and Active Minds, among others they call themselves the UConn Mental Health Coalition. The Coalition is led by Kanu Caplash of USG, Xingyi Chen of the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and Brittany Diaz, a student at UConn Hartford who drafted a mental health bill for the branch campuses last December.
Caplash, the USG Mental Health & Wellness subcommittee co-chair, said he hopes the coalition and its demands will be able to spark change on campus.
“We are not trying to fight administrators,” Caplash said. “We just want to make things more efficient.”
ISSS is hoping to change the stigma within the international student community surrounding mental health, Chen, the founder of the International Advisory Board, said.
“International students suffer a lot,” Chen said.
Juanyi “Michelle” Li echoed Chen’s hope to change mental health culture in the international student community, and added how important it is to give a voice to those who are not loud enough.
“I have to represent international students,” Li, an ISSS student chair, said. “International students are missing in many conversations.”
Caplash said a list of demands and initiatives on behalf of the coalition will be published soon, as well as questions directed to the administration.
Diaz said she is tired of stigma surrounding mental health on campus, and wants students and administrators to know the truth.
“At UConn Hartford, we only had one therapist and they left,” Diaz said. “Mental health services at the Hartford campus are nonexistent and people don’t know where to go.”
Diaz said she hopes adequate services can be brought to all UConn campuses.
Luke Villani, a USG senator working on a historical preservation initiative, said there is opportunity for UConn’s Student Health and Wellness Mental Health department to be housed in plenty of other places on campus.
“There’s a lot of room on this campus that should be utilized for this purpose,” Villani said. “The university just needs to learn how to use it.”
Caplash reflected on the two suicides that occurred on campus, and hopes that preventative measures will be taken moving forward.
“We could have prevented this,” Caplash said. “Every life is worth living. We’ll do anything we can to save a life.”
Ashley Anglisano is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.