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Students deserve more say in UPenn’s mental health care


The Counseling Center at USF, which offers psychological services and workshops for students, and Wellness Education, a department of Wellness USF, provide mental health resources for USF students.  

With the overwhelming frequency of college students experiencing mental health problems throughout the country this is essential, so it is difficult to understand why some universities do not confront the issue with
more urgency.

Such is the case at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), where a group of students are prompting the university to provide improved mental health care for students, signing a manifesto called the “Platform of the Green Ribbon Movement,” which includes goals as immediate as reducing waiting times at the school’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and as longstanding as breaking down negative stigmas associated with seeking help. 

After two UPenn students this year and one last summer committed suicide, according to a Huffington Post article, students at UPenn should not face so much uncertainty on actually seeing improvements made on the mental health care the school provides. According to the same article, documents exposed to the Daily Pennsylvania, the university’s student newspaper, the waiting time for students seeking help from the CAPS can take from nearly two weeks to as many as 50 days. 

Though students are taking action against a serious issue at UPenn, their efforts may not be as far-reaching as they ought to be. 

Mental health issues are a wide-scale problem for college students and universities such as UPenn, despite not necessarily denying students a response, should allow student voices to have larger gravity on this problem. The American College Health Association reports over 25 percent of college students were diagnosed or sought professional treatment for their mental health in 2012. Additionally, 30 percent of college students experienced depression to the point that “it was difficult to function.”

Despite students actively trying to pave a new way for the school to be a better resource for mental health care, meeting with the task force will only lead to change only if the university’s president or provost decides it should. However, when handling the effectiveness of student mental health care, students’ voices are the ones that should be considered most valuable since it is an issue that
directly affects them.   

As of now, the only promise made to UPenn students is that the task force is “receptive” to their concerns and will essentially advise the school’s administration of them – an inadequate response for such a
prominent problem. 

Such a widespread problem should not be dealt with in a manner of “insufficient transparency,” as the Huffington Post reports one of the student signers of the manifesto implied. With the prevalence of mental health issues among students and the tragedy of student death, making improvements for mental health care should not be an issue students can only change indirectly. 


Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.