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UC Officials Outline Plan To Address Growing Mental Health Needs

On Thursday, the University of California's Board of Regents met to discuss efforts to address mental health care needs on the university system's campuses across the state, AP/WBNS reports.

The talks were part of a two-day meeting of the board this week that also included discussions on finances and student athletes (AP/WBNS, 1/21).

Growing Demand for Mental Health Services

Gina Fleming, medical director of student health and counseling at UC's Office of the President, told the board that UC students experiencing anxiety or depression often have to wait weeks before receiving mental health treatment.

In addition, Fleming said the number of students who use the university system's counseling services has increased over the past five years, but the ratio of counselors to students has not increased to meet that demand.

For example, Jeff Prince -- director of counseling and psychological services at UC-Berkeley's Tang Center -- said that the percentage of students on the Berkeley campus who use individual counseling services rose to 16% as of last year, but no additional counselors have been hired.

Fleming attributed the increase in students seeking mental health services to:

  • Better medications that help students with mental health issues succeed in school;
  • Destigmatization of mental health issues; and
  • More pressure on students.

Plan To Address Mental Health Needs

During the meeting, UC officials outlined a potential plan to increase UC's student services fees, with some of the additional funding going toward addressing students' mental health care needs.

Under the proposed plan, UC Office of the President spokesperson Shelly Meron said annual student services fees -- which currently are $974 -- would increase by 5% over the next five years, with $16 of each student's fee going toward hiring new staff members, including mental health counselors.

Prince said the plan also could enable the campuses to better integrate mental and medical services (Fitzgerald, Daily Californian, 1/22).

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