OCCC lacks in mental health area

As a student reporter on campus I have known of several instances where fellow students may need mental health services but don’t seem to be getting it.

Just recently, two students voiced things on campus that caused others to feel worried enough to file police reports. In each case, the student was evaluated by campus staff, found to be of no threat and allowed to remain on campus. It’s not known if either received any further help off campus.

In both cases, certain administrators wanted to minimize the information released to the campus community.

Students deserve to be aware of any charged situations on campus and moreso, students who create these situations need to be getting actual professional help if they need it.

OCCC does have licensed mental health counselors but no psychiatrist so students must be referred off campus. It also has a Campus Area and Response Evaluation team — a group on campus that stores information and evaluate threats.

When a student displays concerning behavior, the case can be referred to the CARE team. However, members of that team are restricted by certain laws, inhibiting its members from even sharing certain information about the case with each other. I don’t see how that helps anyone and I don’t see how a true evaluation can be made in that manner.

An article from the American Psychological Association shows most community colleges lack in this area.

“Despite mounting mental health problems among students at community colleges, fewer than 13 percent provide psychiatric services for students, finds a January survey by the American College Counseling Association. By contrast, 56 percent of four-year colleges and universities offer on-campus psychiatric services, according to ACCA data.”

It goes on to say, “And while 68 percent of community colleges do offer some sort of personal counseling, the lack of psychiatric care is worrisome since many community college students are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health problems compared with their traditional university student counterparts, says Amy Lenhart, chair of the ACCA Community College Task Force that conducted the survey of 294 community college counselors.”

How many students on our campus are in emotional turmoil because they are not receiving the help they need? I can’t imagine being depressed or having suicidal thoughts, or dealing with a personality disorder you can’t fight on your own —and there is no real help. That can alienate a student from other students and professors. All of these situations are probably going on at this moment here at OCCC. Each one would leave a person feeling lost, upset, scared and possibly hopeless or more.

In addition, those types of thoughts can put others at potential risk. For someone suffering from mental health disorders, reality can become distorted. Without proper care, that person could pose a threat to others.

The well-being and safety of every OCCC student should be of the utmost importance to the administration.

The college needs to re-evaluate just how much it actually helps its student body and possibly look for a better way.

By doing so, the college will create a healthier environment for everyone.

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