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Real therapy should be free for college students

Real therapy should be free for college students

Real therapy should be free for college students
February 10
22:56 2020

As a college student, you’ve most likely felt overwhelmed within the last few weeks. Many of us around campus can say we feel overwhelmed at any given time — and who can blame us? College students deal with an immense amount of pressure that can worsen their mental health regardless of whether or not they also have a diagnosis, so their access to affordable & accessible care should be one of UNT’s top priorities.

The responsibilities of the average college student exceed going to class and taking exams. Many of us also work, participate in campus organizations or athletics and are also dealing with normal but difficult life changes that occur in this phase of life. Moving away from home and leaving familiar relationships, the pressure of figuring out where your life is going and how you fit into new environments are all aspects of our life that are constantly changing.

College students drain their emotional energy trying to balance all the responsibilities of being alone for the first time with none of the experience they need to succeed. As if that weren’t enough, one in five college students have a diagnosed mental health condition that may affect their academic life as well. All of this being considered, it is crucial that students have access to resources that ensure they are taking care of their mental health.

UNT has many mental health resources available on campus including the Counseling & Testing Center and support groups. These resources provide free individual and group counseling. Students can set up counseling appointments with qualified, graduate-level psychology students for no cost with a simple phone call or email. In addition, UNT provides the Psychology Clinic and the Collegiate Recovery Program. The Psychology Clinic requires a fee but provides therapy, evaluations and referrals. The Collegiate Recovery Program requires an application process but provides daily support group meetings, case management and peer mentorship. If you are looking for help for yourself or a loved one, more information about these resources can be found on the UNT websites.

However, those who have attempted to utilize these programs can tell you that the quality of care provided here is not adequate. While the professionals in these programs work their hardest every day to provide UNT students with the care they need and deserve, overcrowding and underfunding leave us with waitlists and students that have to wait weeks to receive help. Often, it takes even longer after their initial appointments for students to be able to schedule a second or third appointment. In delicate mental health situations, days are more than enough to endanger someone’s safety, while students here are being asked to wait weeks before having access to care.

The Psychology Clinic even has waitlists from three to six months. Because of this, these programs get a negative reputation in the UNT community that drives students away from seeking the help they need. This cycle leads to students being restricted from necessary care despite hardworking mental health professionals constantly doing their best to give it to them. The entire mental health care system at UNT is in need of restructuring.

It is my personal belief that everyone should have access to free therapy, but unfortunately that’s not the world we live in. Providing the option of legitimate, regular therapy for all of UNT’s students is not realistic at this time. We do, however, have the ability to improve and restructure our current programs. Adding staff is a relatively simple way to provide more students with access to counseling. With an increased counseling staff, we could even reach a point where students are able to schedule regular appointments, instead of setting up one and never hearing back about a second. This requires more funding for these programs, which can be pulled from UNT’s excess spending on things like extra facilities or campus retail.

If existing mental health programs were given the funding to increase their efficiency, more students would be encouraged to seek the help they may need to keep their balance and find their place in life. Better mental health resources on campus means building a community where students can trust that their health and voice matter.

Featured Illustration: Jae-Eun Suh

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Rose Bhaskar

Rose Bhaskar

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