Ginger Ambler unfortunately notified students at the College of William and Mary last week that once again our campus was struck by tragedy when Whitney Mayer ’13 took her own life. Three suicides during an eight-month time period is an absolutely ridiculous number that should not occur at any school. Granted, it is hard for the school to exercise control what amounts to the random actions of people, but more must be done to prevent these tragedies. The College claims more emphasis on mental health is necessary, but it gives vague answers to a major problem. Mental health is by far one of the biggest concerns on campus, but many times it is the least talked about issue by students. The College needs to promote dialogue between students about mental health in order to keep everyone safe, which means designing specific programs to address mental health on campus.
One of the first and most important actions that the College needs to take is to allocate more resources to mental health education and the Counseling Center. More resources will allow the Counseling Center to address the needs of more students. Resident Assistants should also be trained by the Counseling Center to have the proper credentials in order to monitor the health of their residents. Having specific training will allow the RAs to make recommendations to the Counseling Center if one of their residents needs to make an appointment at the center.
The Counseling Center also needs to facilitate more communication between the center, faculty and other departments on campus. More communication will allow for more inquiry into student mental health and will allow multiple people to monitor potential red flags. Faculty need to add input and help the Counseling Center identify students that might need some sort of help.
Finally, the Counseling Center could also have the students take a mental health screening, similar to the alcohol education, that all incoming freshman have to complete before entering college and then repeat during the semester. This practice would cost extra money and cause an influx of students to the Counseling Center, but this overflow is acceptable since it helps ensure students’ mental health.
The College needs to focus on mental health, allocate more resources and strive for real tangible goals. The mental health of students on campus should be one of the most important issues that the administration considers. Striving for better mental health will not only improve students’ lives on campus, but also the overall atmosphere of our school.