Andrew Rush, Communitarian Editorial Writer
Photo by Elina Araja
As college students across the country return from their Thanksgiving breaks, many continue to suffer from debilitating mental health conditions. A study done by the American Psychological Association reports that nearly 70% percent of college students in the United States meet the criteria for “moderate to severe psychological stress.”
Research done by Reuters Health found that rates of suicide doubled among college students between 2013 and 2018, with the average age of a victim being 21. This crisis of mental health existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, though the consequences of social isolation and remote learning have worsened the mental faculties of students. These statistics point to a crisis of mental health for those seeking higher education, yet universities have failed to implement adequate support systems for students that are suffering.
A survey of 230 university presidents, conducted by the American Council on Education, found that 75% of presidents felt student mental health was the “most pressing issue.” It is evident that schools are aware of this crisis, though numbers show the situation is not improving. Campuses must invest in mental health services, though it is harder for them do so when Congress does not invest in them. Our state and federal legislators have a moral obligation to fund mental health services to keep students healthy and thriving.
H.R 2755, or the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Reauthorization Act, is the lone federal program specifically designed to deliver funds directly to campuses for mental health services through a series of grants. This program has a budget of only $7 million for campus grants, which limits the availability of these lifesaving funds to a small number of campuses across the country, which must also go through a rigorous application process to receive them. I encourage you to call and write to our state and federal legislators to support the expansion of this program, as it is one of the most effective ways to save the lives of those trying to attain a better future through higher education. Mental illnesses are not battles meant to be fought alone, and by urging Congress to act we can help those that are silently fighting for their life.