Written by Mubarrat Choudhury.
Late last year, the Division of Student Affairs conducted an online survey with the National College Health Assessment in order to understand the health issues and concerns of college students. The survey found some troubling results regarding mental health, such as over 80% of the UT student body feeling overwhelmed or exhausted with academics. This specific statistic also translates to 36% of students feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” and nearly 60% of students always “feeling an overwhelming anxiety.” Clearly with the college environment, there is a growing issue of the mental health among students, but specifically for UT, there might be a decline in the means of addressing such issue.
Over 80% of the UT student body [feels] overwhelmed or exhausted…36% of students [feel] “so depressed that it was difficult to function” and nearly 60% of students always “feeling an overwhelming anxiety.”
Starting this semester, the Counseling and Mental Health Center will be increasing their prices for individual counseling and psychiatric sessions. Before Fall 2015, the original price of the service was $5, but starting this fall, individual counseling sessions will be $10 and psychiatric sessions will be $15.
The fee increase opens up the University to fluctuate its prices based on the most economical incentive and not for the well-being of students who really need it. It could possibly open the college for future price increases, especially when the CMHC is has several limitations.
“Like most services on campus, we had been facing budget issues in the last few years,” Director of the Counseling and Mental Health Center, Chris Brownson said. “We were faced with choosing between decreasing the services we provide, or increasing the prices of the individual services we offer.”
The dichotomy set by the director is troubling, since both options could be detrimental to the student body. If services are decreased, then either the CMHC will not have enough resources to provide for a growing student population or students will face a barrier to mental healthcare with a price increase.
“We were faced with choosing between decreasing the services we provide, or increasing the prices of the individual services we offer.”
According to a recent study from the University of Virginia found that suicide was the second most leading cause of death among U.S. college students. If raising the fee limits the number of students that have access to the CMHC, then we could see a rise in the number of suicides and self-harm on campus, especially since untreated depression is the most frequent cause of suicide for college students. And since student mental health has been an increasing issue among colleges, it is important for institutions like UT to provide accessible resources for any student who needs them.
The situation isn’t all bad, however. The Texas Legislature has taken new steps by introducing a law that requires all universities in the state to provide information about mental services to their students. This ensures that students of UT will be better able to know about possible avenues, when seeking support for any issue.