Tragedy has struck the UConn community far too many times this year. In particular, two suicides have rocked campus and brought about a much needed discussion of UConn’s culture and the lack of mental health resources on campus. The most recent round of uproar and organizing follows in a long tradition of students calling for increased funding to Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS).
Students across the country are being crushed by mountains of debt. The college environment is isolating and forces us to compete for awards, internships, research grants and grades with our classmates. Mental health services, including at UConn, are chronically underfunded. As a consequence, mental illness has reached epidemic proportions in colleges across the country.
Our university, like all universities, exists to expose us to new ideas, sharpen our critical thinking skills and prepare us for our careers.
How can we be expected to learn skills, be active participants in classes and sharpen our thinking if we are depressed and anxious? The university only functions when our basic needs are met. We aren’t expected to succeed if we don’t have adequate food or housing (although many students struggle to afford these basic human needs), so why should we expect to succeed if our basic mental health needs are not met?
On campus, campus leaders are once again attempting to build an organized movement. Last week, three leaders, representing student government, regional campuses and international students, announced the creation of a new Mental Health Coalition, with broad goals of expanding mental health services to all students — whether they are on regional campuses or come from different countries and cultures.
The Daily Campus Editorial Board stands behind this coalition in their efforts. UConn has many competing priorities, but it must find space and resources for the mental health of its students. Beyond funding CMHS, UConn must take a long, hard look at the culture of isolation and hyper-competition that our current model of education fosters.
We implore the university to take the Mental Health Coalition’s thoughtful demands seriously.
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