Mental health deserves more



Opinion Columnist Abigail Bennethum expresses why Iowa needs to do better in regards to mental health. The UNI Counseling Center recently cut counseling sessions down to five per year due to budget cuts.


As a society, we have done some amazing things to destigmatize the topic of mental health. In 2019, it is more accepted and more people are being educated on how to either help a loved one or help themselves. People are realizing that it is not a light switch that you can simply switch off, and how we all need to band together and show others that they are loved and meant to be here. Even though we are making amazing strides as a society, we are also lacking, lacking in the resources where people can turn.

Iowa is ranked as one of the worst states for mental health care in the U.S. “A 2017 report from the Treatment of Advocacy Center gave Iowa a D- for its mental health bed shortages, as well as the treatment of inmates with mental health issues” (National Alliance on Mental Illness). If we know anything from being in college, it is that a D- is not the best grade letter to receive, especially in a situation as serious as somebody’s mental health.

Another issue that our society faces is budget cuts, more specifically cutting funding to support individuals that suffer from mental health. Some of the services that have been eliminated or downsized consist of: supportive housing, access to medications, assertive community treatment and so much more. From this information, we can see that even though we have made strides, it is not enough to just talk, but we need to act. Being in college, we are in the midst of the most stressful time of our lives. We are navigating unknown territories with maybe not a lot of help, all while having financial struggles. Each and every one of us is struggling with something, and that is okay to struggle, however, we are going to continue to struggle without the resources we need to beat this continuing epidemic.

Resources need to be easily accessible and affordable for anybody. It is not enough to offer a couple of free sessions, and chalking it up to “having a stressful season of your life” or “just being sad because of ‘x, y, z,’” but to really take into consideration what an individual might be experiencing and how it is affecting them and how it might have affected them their whole lives.

So, the question presses: what do we do? We need to ban together as a campus and a community and make it known that we need more than what we are receiving. Showing people that this issue isn’t something to make a profit off of or make it so people have to bend over backward to get the care that we all need and deserve. More funding needs to be poured into departments such as this, instead of continuously funding departments that are already well off.