SE Cupp: College students are in a mental health crisis

Warning: This article contains information about suicide. If you or a loved one is in need of help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

In this month’s Better Homes and Gardensreaders were treated to a lovely interview with British singer and actor Harry Styles.

In it, the 28-year-old admitted he’d set up his first therapy session five years ago, after dealing with mental health obstacles for years as a teen idol and singing sensation with One Direction. He’d avoided it for a long time.

“I thought it meant that you were broken. I wanted to be the one who could say I didn’t need it. ”

The admission is a welcome one, as young people are facing mental health challenges in staggering proportions. As more and more young celebrities like Naomi Osaka, Camila Cabello, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner tell their stories, more and more young people will hopefully see it’s OK to not be OK.

But had any of these people been at a US college while they were at their lowest mentally, they might not have gotten the help they so desperately needed. That’s because universities are failing our students when it comes to mental health.

AND new study by the Healthy Minds Network found that the mental health of college students has been steadily declining, with a whopping 135% increase in depression and 110% increase in anxiety from 2013 to 2021.

The covid-19 pandemic saw a frightening rise in suicidal ideation, according to the CDCwith 25.5% – a quarter – of 18- to 24-year-olds more likely to report they’d seriously considered suicide.

In the wake of covid-19, many colleges are attempting to make mental health awareness a more prominent part of student life.

But access to mental health services is still the main obstacle. Colleges all over the country are severely understaffed and lacking resources.

In some cases, students wait months for care, oftentimes giving up. In other cases, a staff of 10 mental health specialists has to service thousands of students each year. Where private care is available, many do not take insurance.

Making matters worse, colleges all over the country are failing to set and adhere to appropriate protocols for students in need.

According to public records, in some cases professors ignored required accommodations for students with certified special needs, schools’ leave-of-absence policies were found to be discriminatory, or they did not provide counseling for sexual assault victims.

Unsurprisingly, Congress has failed too.

In 2016, the House introduced the Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act, which would have awarded grants to colleges to improve mental health services, and require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a College Campus Task Force. It has not passed.

In 2021, the Senate introduced the Higher Education Mental Health Act, which also would have established a commission to better study and serve students’ mental health needs. It has not passed.

In 2022, the House introduced a Student Mental Health Rights Act, which would solidify college’s legal obligations to students. It has not passed.

As the mental health of our college students has worsened, access to on-campus services have in many cases become harder to get. This is a travesty, and a sadly preventable one. Making mental health services readily available saves lives. And with every new suicide, the issue becomes more urgent.

SE Cupp is the host of “SE Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.

Opinion | SE Cupp Columns

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