It’s time we talk about the most taboo—yet likely the most prevalent—topic on college campuses: the mental health crisis. I recently came across a New York Times article entitled “Preventing Suicide Among College Students” that shares an alarming fact: over 40% of college students nationwide suffer from depression, up almost 10% since 2013. Even more troubling, the article states that roughly one in every twelve students has a suicide plan intact. Worst of all, mental health services just can’t keep up, even at Cornell, which has recently added three new therapists to the CAPS team in response to spiking numbers.
Despite the new initiatives articulated by Ryan Lombardi in his latest student-wide email blast, many Cornell students need someone to talk to ASAP, and may not be in the state to navigate the school’s mental health system themselves. And while the CAPS hotline (607-272-1616) provides assistance to over a fifth of the student population each year, many Cornellians find themselves needing resources that are hard to get access to.
For those young adults that find themselves in the middle, not requiring emergency mental health services but also not feeling like their best selves, it’s hard to come by a service that meets their needs. The average wait time for an appointment with a CAPS professional can be up to three weeks time. A few weeks can feel like an eternity to someone in need.
If Cornell University prides itself on having one of the most expansive alumni networks of any American university, why are resources so scarce? We need more. Despite the fact that CAPS has a better therapist to student ratio than many other schools, there needs to be more funding allotted to hiring a larger staff. No one in need should have to wait more than a week for regular counseling.
There’s also the stigma of seeking help. While this number of students is obviously unconfirmed, there are many students out there who feel ashamed to seek out mental health services. Whether you minimize your ongoing anxiety as the stress of prelim season or feel that your sadness is a fleeting emotion, there are resources for you to turn to other than seeing a mental health professional.
Cornell Minds Matter is a student-run initiative to end the stigma behind mental illness and foster a welcoming environment to promote a healthier lifestyle amongst the student body. According to their website, CMM “runs over 200 programs a semester; Yoga, Zumba, mental health education and awareness programming, relaxation and mindfulness events, etc.” Even something as simple as keeping a gratitude journal will likely lift your spirits.
It’s time to take care of yourself. You’re worth it. And if you see friends in need, show them that they’re worth it, too.