Editorial: Mental health resources should be given more attention

Editorial Board

Throughout last week, the Office of Post-Graduate Planning and Experiential Education at Case Western Reserve University sent out four different emails detailing available internships and jobs for students, promoting numerous lectures occurring on campus and advertising opportunities for experiential learning. This office, as well as others on campus—including the Support of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE) office and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities—is constantly sending out emails that disclose opportunities to students. These resources are incredibly valuable for those who are looking for them. 

However, for some this constant stream of emails is a source of great stress and anxiety. It can make students feel as though their school pursuits are not enough to satisfy the current standards of being a college student. Schoolwork is a lot by itself; many students take 15+ credits each semester, depending on their major, just to hit the requirements for graduation.

This insistence on constant internships, jobs and experiences during college is definitely important; experiential learning is sometimes more valuable than class time, especially when considering the expectations of future employers. However, when there aren’t enough mental health resources and provisions available to students, a problem arises.

Mental health should be the primary concern for students, with all else, including the pursuit of a summer internship, coming second. Mental health requires constant attention, as good mental health doesn’t come from nowhere. Universities must foster an environment that encourages proper self-care—only then will students be able to excel.

How is this possible, however, if the current resources on our campus are not well equipped to handle the glut of students who need help? With the lack of available mental health resources, some students are forced to forego mental health counseling altogether, ultimately leading them to be trapped within a bad mental space. Oftentimes slots are not available on MyHealthConnect, the student health portal, to sign up for a meeting with a counselor, even though the university boasts that students are allowed up to 12 counseling sessions for free. 

These counselors, too, are way overburdened, especially during times like these when everything seems to be coalescing at once. Whether it be because of the stress of registering for classes, the inundation of exams and projects, the pressure of finding a job or internship for the summer, the anxiety of knowing finals are coming or just the mere exhaustion of a rigorous semester, we are all overwhelmed to some degree.

CWRU needs to invest more in mental health resources to support student success. CWRU promotes the mental health resources available to students and even highlights them in the First-Year Experience modules we all have to take, but there’s no guarantee that they will be available. Expansions to our counseling services have been promised over the years, especially when justifying tuition increases, but so far it doesn’t seem like much has come to fruition. Of course CWRU should hire more counselors, but there are plenty of other ways to help students and prioritize their mental health. The administration can schedule mental health days, host more mentally beneficial activities or perhaps provide things like therapy groups and accessible brochures on stress reduction techniques to students. There is no question that this administration could be doing to prioritize their students’ well-being.

Furthermore, many professors need to become more aware of the mental health climate of the student body—this may mean dropping assignments and lowering expectations when struggles are clearly seen. After all, it is not surprising that students are struggling considering the state of the world, with COVID-19 reigning, climate change accelerating, democracy crumbling and war brewing. That isn’t even mentioning the emotional toll that being online 24/7 has taken on all of us. Even just a guarantee of understanding and flexibility when students do ask for help would be better than the current state of affairs. Too many times professors tell students to simply “deal with it,” citing that it isn’t fair to other students if they provide accommodations for certain individuals.

The amount of stress and pressure students face as new adults is already absurd, and it’s only growing over the years as expectations increase. And with their lack of regard for mental health and their sole focus on success, CWRU adds tremendously to this stress. It makes sense that CWRU as an institution would want to promote their ability to bring jobs and opportunities to their students, but success has multiple dimensions. The university certainly has the ability to help us and prioritize our well-being, and the time for continual broken promises is long gone. CWRU needs to take action.