Mental health is on everyone’s radar right now, and for good reason. The number of young people experiencing mental health issues like depression and suicidal ideation has greatly increased in recent years. The pandemic has made things worse.
Thankfully, legislators are paying attention. There appears to be bipartisan support for improving mental health resources for children, and the legislature’s Children’s Committee is studying the issue.
There is a place where we can make almost immediate progress with a few simple changes: colleges. That is why the 4Cs is partnering with CSU-AAUP at the Connecticut State Universities to take action.
The recommended standard for student to counselor ratios at colleges is one counselor per every 1,000 to 1,500 students. CCSU has five full-time counselors and more than 9,600 students (1:1,920). SCSU has three full-time counselors and more than 8,700 students (1:2,900). At the state’s community colleges, some campuses provide no mental services for students. Asnuntuck refers its 1,304 students to outside organizations. Capital, with a student population of 2,718 students, does not offer mental health services. Many of our remaining community colleges may have one part-time or full-time counselor to serve thousands of students.
What happens when colleges don’t have enough counselors for students who are more stressed, anxious and depressed than ever before? Those students are put on waitlists and can’t get the services they need, and they may drop out or experience increased mental health issues. And counselors are forced to work through lunch breaks, stay late and extend themselves to the point of burnout so they can meet these great needs.
We ask that you send this letter to members of the Children’s, Public Health and Higher Education committees calling on them to do something about mental health services for college students. Students need this support to reach their full potential and stay safe in college.