During recent years at the College of William and Mary, there has been increasing awareness of mental health issues on campus. As students at the College, we acknowledge the prevailing stigma that mental health has been a problem on campus. The only way to improve mental health conditions is to create a plan that can produce results to help students. We applaud Lexie Mellis ’14 and Health Outreach Peer Educators, as well as the Student Assembly, for their recent creation and funding of Tribe Rides, a program designed to reimburse students for 50 percent of the cost of a taxi ride to and from an off-campus counseling facility.
Mellis’ efforts in creating the plan show that students have creative ideas that can benefit all of campus. The idea for Tribe Rides was born when Mellis reached out to her Facebook friends about what needed to happen to improve mental health on campus. We hope that her actions spark other innovative ideas and inspire students to reach out and partner with campus organizations for funding.
We also want to compliment the SA for its practical approach to implementing this program. In addition to receiving $1,500 in grant money, the SA budgeted $3,000 to launch the program in spring 2013. Mental health concerns have long been on the minds of students at the College, so we are pleased to see the SA taking such a direct approach to improving mental health programs. While general programs attempt to destigmatize the issue and raise awareness for mental health on campus — both of which are important steps to improving mental wellness at the College — Tribe Rides differs from these existing programs because it gives students access to the end goal: the highest level of mental health care possible. The decision to fund a program like Tribe Rides demonstrates the SA’s commitment to improving the College community.
We believe the SA was practical in looking for grant money to fund the program since money is tight at the College. Mental health care cannot afford budget cuts, and we hope that with more grant money, Tribe Rides will eventually be able to pay for 100 percent of students’ transportation expenses.
Mental health issues are very private and complex. The solution proposed by Mellis and H.O.P.E., funded by the SA, does not seek to provide a blanket solution; it enables students to individually address their mental health care needs. This program will make a huge difference to many students on campus who need long-term access to counseling facilities; however, it was only possible through Mellis’ partnership with the SA. We want to thank not only the organizations and people involved in creating Tribe Rides, but we also want to encourage more students to follow Mellis’ lead. Talking about the issues is not enough; the only way to help the College community is to create realistic plans of action that will yield results.