The Central Student Government’s Mental Health Climate and Resources Task Force hosted its second town hall Monday night as a continuation of the first meeting held last Wednesday, this time discussing with students residing on North Campus.
The goal of the meeting was to address the results of three surveys regarding mental health sent to the entire University of Michigan community last semester including students, faculty and staff. The surveys focused on resource innovation and classroom climate and found that 91.3 percent of the 1,000 students who responded to the survey have dealt with mental illness at some point while on campus.
The town hall focused on the difficulties students face in finding mental health resources on North Campus. There are currently no branches of Counseling and Psychological Services available on North Campus, though CAPS does have counselors in the College of Engineering. Multiple organizations have stepped forward to implement a greater breadth of services in the area.
LSA junior Max Rothman, a member of the mental health task force, explained some of the difficulties students living on North Campus face.
“Students on North Campus feel that they don’t have equal access to utilizing mental health resources on campus,” Rothman said. “Of the students who currently live here on North Campus and who have utilized some sort of resource here on campus, 50 percent answered yes about whether the physical distance here on campus has deterred them from utilizing CAPS.”
The bus route itself can often create an issue for students who find themselves struggling with a sudden illness such as an anxiety attack. Engineering sophomore Natalie Baughan, another member of the task force, recalled an instance in which she developed the stomach flu while in class on North Campus and had to find a way to quickly get home.
“I had to try to get back to Central so I could go home, but it was a 20-minute bus ride, and I had to get off the bus at one point to go back to the bathroom,” she said. “It was so horrible, it was a traumatic experience, and then I thought: ‘What if this happened to someone with a mental illness? What if someone had a surprise anxiety attack and they were on North Campus?’ You (would) have to get on a crowded Blue Bus and ride 20 minutes to get home. It’s so hard; we need something up here.”
Other issues discussed include the fact that many students are aware of the resources CAPS provide but may choose not to seek them out because of previous negative experiences. The waiting time for an appointment and the business hours were issues of concern raised by the students.
“It’s really hard for students to prioritize mental health,” Rothman said. “There’s lots of insurance issues. We found in the data that people have mentioned about insurance not covering mental health resources, having to go to their parents and that being a barrier. Something that’s very applicable to North Campus is just the distance that we have from here to CAPS. We found that to be a barrier, as well as the business hours that are associated with CAPS, only being open 9 to 5 throughout the week.”
According to the CSG survey results, 73.6 percent of respondents felt professors, GSIs and lecturers are moderately or very obligated to provide accommodation to students with mental illnesses.
Attendees broke off into groups to discuss this result and other barriers surrounding those looking to seek support on campus, as well as make suggestions for the task force to improve overall campus climate. These suggestions were compiled into a document the task force will share with University administration, specifically hoping to increase the effectiveness of student-professor interactions both inside and outside the classroom.