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CUNY: Expand Campus Mental Health Care Services

Throughout my college career, my friends and I have often utilized the Counseling and Wellness Services at Hunter college. I attended workshops that were held each semester because they were a great way for me to learn how to overcome personal and academic barriers without having to commit to counseling sessions. On the other hand, my friends utilized the Counseling and Wellness Center to speak to counselors and receive more individualized help. While we all have expressed satisfaction with the help we received, we would like those services to be expanded to better suit the needs of Hunter’s diverse student body.

Given that some students do not have the time to invest into counseling sessions, the workshops held by the Counseling and Wellness Center are a good way for students to quickly gain skills in order to target the challenges in their lives. At Hunter College, the workshop topics range from preventing procrastination to managing healthy relationships. While these topics cover common challenges that college students go through, they lack cultural relevance on how students from different backgrounds experience and cope with these challenges. As CUNY campuses have a diverse student body, campus resources and services need to be tailored to better support students who come from various backgrounds.

To start, CUNY campuses can invest in diversifying their counseling and wellness services to be more inclusive of different cultures. For example, in order to target issues pertinent to AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) students’ lives, campuses can provide workshops about navigating school while coping with the model minority myth, which is most often associated with the AAPI community. Providing culturally specific workshops will show students that the Counseling and Wellness Center accepts their unique backgrounds and students may be more likely to seek additional help for their challenges by scheduling counseling sessions with a mental health counselor.

Additionally, my peers have expressed that they wished there were more mental health counselors available at our college because they could have more sessions and take time to address the challenges they were experiencing . Now, in order to alleviate the mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and ease students’ transition back to in-person classes, CUNY campuses need to invest in more counselors to meet the growing mental health needs of the student body. To target larger bodies of students and encourage them to seek help, CUNY campuses also need to diversify the types of issues they provide services for in order to be more culturally inclusive. The workshops could be a gateway to the Counseling and Wellness Services for some students, therefore they need to be expanded to address different stressors pertinent to minority and low-income students’ lives.

Hafsah Ansar is a senior at Hunter College, CUNY and a member of YI-New York’s Fall 2021 Young Advocates Program.