OPINION: Mental health services need to increase for students

By Brenda Verano

A student’s mental health is vital to their well-being and their academic performance.

Therefore, it is critical for students to have additional access to more than six sessions with the school’s therapist.

As of today, ELAC offers each students a maximum of six visits per year to the school’s therapist, sessions that have to be distributed throughout 4 terms (fall, spring summer, winter), a current regulation that is keeping students from reaching mental and emotional stability and well-being.

Six sessions per year is not enough for ELAC’s students.

Students at ELAC are constantly dealing with stress throughout the academic year.

The start of a new semester, deadlines, transferring and financial aid are only some of the many things students have to deal with, that in one way or another cause stress, and limits a student’s time for self-care, diverging attention from their health.

To this day, students have declared that stress has been a factor in them by either receiving a lower exam or course grade, dropping a class, or  causing a significant disruption that resulted in a leave of absence.

All of ELAC’s students must pay a health fee for every semester, $8 for summer/winter semesters and $11 in the Fall and Spring,  which amounts to almost $40 every school year.

The student’s health fee covers things like physical exams, first aid care, health education/workshops and individual therapy, but individual therapy is limited.

This limitation could become something from the past if educational funds were invested in hiring an additional school therapist.

This will not only aid ELACs scholars but it will also create a healthier environment in school by knowing that students are given the right assistance regarding their mental health.

In a survey conducted by The California Mental Health Service Authority, throughout the LACCD campuses, it was found that 14 percent of students did not know where to go for help with personal problems and 31 percent were unaware at all of where to go on campus if they needed mental health, or other similar services.

This clearly shows that informing students about the resources their health fee covers and therefore are entitled to needs improvements.

The level of awareness needs to increase because students deserve to know there is important services for them.

Most importantly, students should not be limited in any way to counseling, therapy sessions, or anything that helps with their mental and emotional well-being.

Jacki Gallardo, an art student who advocates for mental health and the increase counseling  sessions with the school’s therapist said, “It (mental health) can get very scary not being able to talk about it… Investing in more therapy would be great, therapist are often the support students need,”

Regardless of a student’s financial circumstances, documentation or lack of health coverage, -they should all be provided with assistance and mental health services that are equitable and accessible to all.

As of today, those students who have paid for their health fee can take advantage of short-term counseling, which is available up to six sessions per year.

If further counseling is needed for students, they will be referred to a mental health provider in their community.

It is easy and fast to book an appointment, students can call (323)-265-8651 or stop by the Student Health Center, located in F5-302.

Student life can become very stressful, but with the adequate support it can also be filled with, great memories, adventure, personal growth and healthy life choices.

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