Sign bill to increase mental health services at community college

As a campus with limited mental health resources, we support AB-2017, the proposed bill for increasing the funding for mental health services on all college campuses.

The California Senate passed the bill to the Assembly on Aug. 23 and is now waiting for Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

AB-2017 would create a grant program to provide better access to mental health resources for college students.

College students are more likely to experience depressive symptoms today than thirty years ago, yet the students of that time were twice as likely to seek help, according to four surveys conducted by Social Indicators Research in 2014.

AB-2017 states that one in four students has a mental illness, 40 percent of students never reach out to mental health services, and one in 10 students contemplate suicide.

The Student Health Center at Citrus College sponsors anxiety support group and grief counseling, but these only meet a few times a month.

If a student is suffering from mental health issues then they should not have to wait a week or more for their appointment. They should be able to have access to services as soon as they feel they need it.

The importance of the counseling appointment is lost when there is no immediacy, because the student may not be concerned with what they were feeling days prior.

When someone is suffering from a mental illness, they may not want to wait for the next campus event to roll around.

There are a wide range of mental illnesses as well. Though anxiety and depression are common, there are students also suffering with other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and many more.

To show support, ASCC hosts the annual World Suicide Prevention day each September.

Last year students wrote notes of encouragement and stuck them on letter boards that read “NOT ALONE.” Booths were set up for students to help them with their internal struggles.

The event is an opportunity but not an end all solution. We must remain active in supporting and raising awareness for mental illnesses.

This upcoming World Suicide Prevention day on Sept. 22 is going to be similar unless ASCC receives suggestions on what else to add.

Although this mental health awareness day is a start, Citrus must do more to support students and faculty with mental illness.

Not every student who would like to attend is able to, causing them to miss out on information that can help.

Despite the commonality of mental illness, it still seems like a taboo subject, which may explain why many students do not seek treatment.

Some students do not speak out for fear that they will be perceived as different. They are unaware that many of their peers are probably going through the same situations as they are. Simply knowing how common mental illness is among community college students can help them feel less alone.

And let’s not forget staff and faculty may also suffer.

Mental illness is not something that should be kept in the dark. Failing to address these issues in a timely manner does not help anyone and may ultimately harm the student or faculty member. Students and faculty should be able to make appointments to speak to a counselor whenever they need to.

When problems are kept inside, they tend to intensify, eating at the individual from the inside out.

The high rate of mental illnesses among college students cannot be lowered within a few days. It is an ongoing process which cannot begin if the issue is not being addressed.

We must be working at a rate faster than the growing mental illness rate to fix it, but progress will likely start off slow.

For Governor Brown not to sign the bill would be to deny students the chance to be the best they can be.