College campuses become a second home for students who are seeking degrees. Campuses provide housing, meals, health centers, and other amenities. But how much are schools accountable for, especially when it comes to mental health? College life is hard to acclimate to, but is the answer to send students home to their parents? Or to provide on-campus treatment?
Mental health in college
College is a coveted time in students’ lives the social aspects, freedom, and ability to make decisions on your own like a real adult (kinda). But for every liberating aspect of campus culture, there are the toxic downsides. Loneliness on campus is affecting students and hurting their education and mental health. It is a sad image to think about a new student feeling alone in a new place, stuck in a dorm room waiting for a holiday break. The loneliness epidemic on campus is more common than you would think, and it needs to be addressed. I, myself, dealt with the feeling, even with taking part in extracurriculars.
When loneliness and other severe mental health disorders take over, students are encouraged to go to on-campus counseling centers. But the process of on-campus counseling is being scrutinized. Students are reportedly being asked to take a leave of school for severe issues like thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Students often then return home and spiral due to isolation and lack of support because not everyone has an idyllic home situation. This system especially hurts those in lower-class households who can not afford therapy. Even with insurance, it is hard to find a therapist and one you work with well.
Colleges are responsible for their students. However, sending them home due to extreme mental health issues is being questioned. Should students go home? Or should campuses make more of a presence in their student’s lives and do more?
College’s protecting themselves
If we take a step back and look at colleges as a business, it becomes understandable that they send students home. Colleges are like any institution seeking to protect themselves. Having students self-harm or worse on campus reflects poorly on them. So, sometimes, they feel as if sending students home is the only option. However, there is a growing outcry for better mental health care on campus. This all marks an ongoing debate about who is responsible for young adults mental health. Should the parents or guardians step in? How much should campuses do for struggling students?
Getting a degree is not easy, and that, compiled with a new sense of freedom as well as a new environment, understandably can be overwhelming. Colleges are under a microscope in how they handle the mental health of their students. Colleges are a business and have to protect their brand, however, they do take money from students and therefore assume some responsibility. Mental health and how it is handled is a much larger ethics conversation. However, it needs to be had to protect students pursuing education.
Have something to add to this story? Comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.
Header image: Shutterstock