Mental health crisis looms as elephant in the lecture hall
- NPR reports that 1 in 5 secondary school students is dealing with some form of an unaddressed mental health challenge, many of which go undetected by teachers or school health officials.
- Like parents, many teachers and school health officials have little to no training on signs of mental health stress or problems, and as these students move on to higher education, the challenges often remain untreated.
- The recent suicide death of Texas A&M Commerce President Dan Jones and the admission of University of British Columbia President Santa Ono, who was then at the helm of the University of Cincinnati, that he has struggled with depression shine a light on the fact that mental health concerns are not just a student problem.
Ono is a strong advocate for increased resources to deal with mental health issues on campus, as well as for the destigmatization of seeking help. But too often the conversation only arises in the face of mass shootings on college campuses. It is imperative that the national higher ed community treat student mental health as a public health issue and work to increase the number of counselors, resources and awareness-building systems available to student bodies.
Many worry states with campus carry legislation will only exacerbate the problem, putting additional strains on staff and budgets. Purdue University has researched outcomes associated with armed guards in schools, and the results, while politically controversial, do make for a robust conversation on the subject. If you cannot train teaching and service professionals to be part-time mental health counselors, and you cannot force students to accept mental health treatment or intervention, what measures are in place to serve individual — or greater community — safety needs?