Universities are continuing to make mental health a top priority amongst students, and Dixie State University is no different.
Mental illnesses exist everywhere, especially on college campuses where students can be living on their own for the first time in their lives. In 2016, one in 12 college students had a suicide plan, and one in five adults experienced mental illness in any given year. Of those numbers, 67 percent never received treatment.
DSU has started down the path to ensuring all students on campus are healthy and safe. Last year, Student Body President Sarah Ramaker established the Hope Squad at Dixie State University as an effort to help students in need. The establishment of the Hope Squad on campus shows there is some progress in the name of mental health on campus. Ezra Hainsworth, the student body president-elect, wants to focus more on the overall health of the student, which includes mental health.
The Health and Wellness Center offers counseling and even has a time of day where students can walk in with no appointment if they need help right then and there. The average number of mental health professionals per student in campuses across the nation in 2015 was one per every 3,500 students. Over the past five years, DSU has maintained over 8,000 students during fall semesters. The Health and Wellness Center has four mental health physicians available for people to speak with, performing better than the average with one physician for every 2,248 students in the 2016 fall semester.
When I first heard about the new buildings, I became angry because I didn’t understand how the school could spend so much money on looking new and shiny when I knew so many students struggling. What I discovered is pitting the expansion of departments against the well-being of students is an unjust comparison.
DSU is allocating funds to the cause of mental health, and it’s reflected in the hiring of mental health professionals, in the continuation of the Hope Squad, and the migration of the Health and Wellness Center itself. If the university wants to continue to education students and create a safe environment, it is imperative to continue student population growth. Without student growth, the university cannot perform at it’s optimal ability and cannot benefit current and future students. This growth cannot happen without the inclusion of new buildings, degrees and departments who can accommodate the incoming students.
It’s hard for people to understand that it is not the university’s job to seek out students in need, but rather to offer aid when they are ready to ask for help. It is up to each individual to look out for each other and ask for help.
Instead of jumping to conclusions, much like I initially had, it’s much better to look into the facts and let them speak for themselves. DSU is working harder to accommodate students with mental illness, and just because you might not be able to see it doesn’t mean it’s there.