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OPINION: UI taking the right steps to address mental health

Moscow-Pullman Daily News - 2/2/2018

Feb. 02--It is the time of year when higher education leaders present their budget requests to the state that reveal what positions, goals and departments are a high priority.

Last week, University of Idaho president Chuck Staben went to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee at the statehouse in Boise to ask for money to hire two student-support case managers. Their jobs would be to provide crisis intervention and short-term counseling as well as referral support for students, the Daily News reported.

They would be involved with various mental health programs and projects, including the university's Suicide Prevention Program.

Colleges across the country have seen a rise in the number of students seeking help to deal with mental illness and emotional trauma. Staben said the UI is no exception, as there has been a "massive increase in students who are seeking counseling and mental health," adding that the UI's services are "overwhelmed."

The Seattle Times recently reported on a survey that showed one-third of Washington college students have experienced depression in the past year, and more than one in 10 thought of suicide.

After Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his own life, there has been renewed calls for colleges to be extra-vigilant in providing struggling students the support they need.

We are glad the UI has pinpointed a way to make more resources available to its students, and sees fit to take this all the way to Boise. The UI, and any university in the country that has to fight hard for any extra funding from a stingy state, certainly could have focused its attention elsewhere. But it saw there was clearly a need that had to be addressed.

Schools are going to continue to fight an uphill battle when it comes to addressing mental illness and depression among their students. Some methods may work, and others may not.

But it's worth it to keep trying. Students looking to attend college not only want a good education, but also a school that won't ignore them when life becomes too much to handle.


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