Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

Emma Buth, Syracuse University

As a first year college student, I was not prepared for how challenging life outside of the classroom could be. Many of my friends have struggled with food insecurity due to not being able to pay for their meals, because their schedules are so packed that they can’t balance having a job plus being a full-time student. We’re forced to eat on-campus, which is very expensive and a lot of the time isn’t accessible enough to students with different needs. This then adds additional stress to us, which makes being a successful student almost impossible.

I’ve also seen how little mental health resources are made available to students. I’ve struggled with mental health issues over the past year, and being able to get help has been a major struggle. I have had to wait hours for an appointment at times due to a lack of available staff and resources. I know many other schools don’t have nearly as many resources for students on-campus that we do. We cannot reach our potential as students or even live normal lives if we don’t have a support system to provide us with the assistance we need.

Jennifer Martinez, Borough of Manhattan Community College

My major is criminal justice. My career aspirations are mostly getting to help others through my work as not just a police officer but a homicide detective. I haven’t taken out a loan to pay for school and I am not currently employed. I expect to graduate from BMCC in the year of 2021, however with the current pandemic we are dealing with I’m afraid I will not graduate in time. I am struggling a little even if I have an advisor because of the way things are right now and the general situation.

Mental health care is highly important for times such as this, where the majority of people are being negatively affected. I personally never needed any help, however when it comes to assignments and due dates it is quite stressful having to complete school work at the same time. I did not receive any financial aid, so besides school expenses, I had to pay for transportation.

My biggest academic goal is to pass my quizzes by improving my time management. There were times where I had to buy some textbooks, the most expensive I bought was used but still paid in the 150-200 dollars range. Unfortunately, the school frequently has malfunctions with the elevators escalators but they are repaired somewhat quickly and are working normally.

A fully funded school can be seen as many different things. I personally don’t know what it will turn out to look like. It’s only been my first semester in college but, hopefully, it will look nicer and safe for everybody.

Melissa Salcedo, Borough of Manhattan Community College

I am majoring in business administration at BMCC. After my graduation I would really like to start my career as a creative director: I have always been a creative person, and being able to express it by visually representing a product that will be sold is something that really inspires me in pursuing my career. During my two years at BMCC I have been participating in some of the amazing programs they offer that really helped me and helped a lot of other students as well.

In particular, I will always be grateful for programs like the ASAP Leadership Program, where I made a lot of friends that have been a fundamental piece in my academic and personal growth. This program has also been able to help out less fortunate people. It is important to keep these activities open for students, because helping others while perfecting your abilities is an opportunity that more people should have. Before starting college, my goal was to achieve a high GPA and to find my dream career. Two years later, and after changing my major a few times, I am finally going to transfer to a four-year college with a GPA of 3.8.

I am still working hard to have a career that will make me satisfied in the future. Everything I have done during these semesters allowed me to graduate on time: in May 2020, I will finally get my associate degree. However, I would appreciate it if some services on campus were improved: I have been late for classes multiple times because elevators were not working; in some of my classes there were not enough seats for all the students or not enough paper in the bathroom. It is also important to hire more staff for mental health services, which counts only two therapists that have to work for thousands of students. The BMCC campus is great, but it could be improved by adjusting all the existing services they offer. I really hope that every other student after me will have the opportunity of being in an environment that makes them feel like home, where the bad sides of our college will be finally solved and the good sides will become even better.

Wali Ullah, City College of NY

I’m a senior at the City College of New York studying Political Behavior & Analysis, a major that I designed with the help of a faculty mentor through the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique & Interdisciplinary Studies Program. I’m hoping to graduate in the upcoming Fall 2020 semester. I also have Tourette Syndrome, generalized anxiety disorder, and ADHD.

Throughout my entire academic career, I’ve paid my tuition during the last month of the semester because I’m unable to get any financial aid at all and pay entirely out of pocket. In addition, I’ve been struggling with my anxiety and ADHD for a long time, not to mention personal and domestic issues. All of these problems have impacted me, making it difficult to stay positive, focused and productive at school, work, and home. Because of this, I started seeking help.

Throughout my time at Bronx Community College, where I graduated from in Fall 2018, I was able to see a mental health counselor on campus without any limit. Upon transferring to CCNY, I was limited to only 6 appointments with a CCNY mental health counselor. In Fall 2019, I was told that I maxed out my appointment limit, so they gave me a list of off-campus referrals. Only one of the referred clinics took my health insurance, so I went there in early October. A month after my intake appointment, I was told by the clinic that the earliest I’d be able to get my first appointment with a psychologist would be the middle of December.
I was already falling behind in my classes and didn’t have time to wait. I went to see a psychiatrist to get medication for my anxiety and ADHD and talked to most of my professors about the mental health issues I was struggling with throughout the semester. I have yet to find a readily available mental health professional, but I have no choice but to keep pushing myself and stay positive and healthy while at it if I want to graduate on time.

Mental health IS health. Lack of access to proper mental health support puts poor and marginalized students like me in an even worse mental state than before, and can severely affect the ability to emotionally function and stay happy & productive lives. CUNY’s proposed student health & wellness fee to fund mental health counseling services is not only burdensome for disadvantaged students but is also merely a band-aid solution.

To make sure students get the help they need from campus mental health services, there should be: (1) unlimited appointments and individualized counseling for students until they graduate, (2) more counselors and expand student wellness offices, and (3) on-campus psychological diagnosis & testing for mental health disorders and learning disabilities. The state must fund these programs so that all students have a fair shot at an education.

Felix Santos, SUNY New Paltz

I am a junior at SUNY New Paltz, studying sociology with a concentration in criminology and a minor in communications. On campus I have been a student assistant at the Sweets N’ Treats bakery and a student chef at Peregrine Dining Hall. Working at these locations provided help with finances and helped me buy food because after a while campus food gets old. Working on campus also helped me pay off the money that I owed to the school because financial aid couldn’t cover all of my tuition and fees even though I receive the maximum amount for the TAP and Pell Grants.

I am very grateful to be a part of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). EOP has helped me in tons of ways. First, in terms of financial aid, they provide up to $1,400 towards financial aid. Although it does help, it still did not cover all of my financial needs for the semesters. Sometimes towards the end, the program receives leftover money from schools in order to help fund the missing amount from a student’s financial aid.

EOP has helped guide me through the criteria of college by giving me an idea of what to expect from classes, especially since it was a big transition from high school. EOP has also helped me in the process of deciding what major was best for me, and the program provided connections in order for me to succeed. Those resources are even there for me when the semester hits and anxiety and stress takes over my body.

I have been facing problems with financial aid since I started school. I was never told that the amount of financial aid you receive depends on the amount of credits you earn in a year. One semester during freshman year I took 12 credits instead of 15, and you need 30 credits to be considered a sophomore. At the beginning of my sophomore semester, I had to take about a thousand dollars out-of-pocket in order to pay off the school since my financial aid didn’t cover all of my bill. And with loans, I’m not allowed to take out a certain amount of money because I didn’t qualify to be a sophomore that year. I was too scared to take out another loan (the Parent Plus loan).

It’s really hard to pay that amount because $1,000 isn’t pocket change, especially since I come from a family that relies on an insignificant income. I had to rely on the funds that I earned from working at the on-campus job that I had. This year I was faced with taking out the Parent Plus loan, and I ended up doing it. A lot of my friends dropped out because they couldn’t pay the amount that they owed to the school.

Alejandra, City College of NY

I’m a freshman at CCNY. I receive financial aid and pay for books, transportation, and food with my earning from work. I don’t receive work-study and am not part of any opportunity programs. If I didn’t receive any financial aid, I would probably have to take out loans and ask for my parents’ support, but that would be an additional burden on them since they have to have other financial responsibilities.

I would certainly appreciate a child care center on campus because a lot of CCNY students really need it. We need a fully funded CUNY because not all students have access to money. Many of them are struggling. I’m lucky to have parents that would support me if I couldn’t work, but many students don’t have that kind of support. Having to work full time at a job puts a lot of stress on a student and often interrupts their ability to study and maintain their grades. Being in school on its own is very stressful and adding a job to that becomes very draining and can lead to mental health issues.

My biggest challenge as a CUNY student is transportation because the only bus that I’m able to take to get to campus is not reliable, and it interferes with my attendance in class. 

Zeke Luger, Queens College

I am currently a senior majoring in Applied Mathematics, and after graduation I plan on pursuing a career in Quantitative Sociology. It is my eighth year of college due to mental and physical issues that have arisen and slowed down my ability to graduate within four years. The only reason why I was able to afford stretching out my years in CUNY was due to the fact that my parents have payed for my tuition over the years.

My parents, as well as grandparents, are CUNY alumni — they attended CUNY for free. This gave them the opportunity to pursue higher education being that they were coming from a low economic bracket. CUNY was a tool that gave them access to the professional class. This allowed me to go to college without needing financial aid. I have taken advantage of CUNY’s mental health services. I was very active in the social anxiety support group on campus where I really felt the extent of the budget deficit. The group did not have enough time to allow every student to contribute. This may have been due to a budget cut that did not provide enough staff to compensate for the large demand from students. So in order to have smaller groups they cut down the time of each group session.

Dillon Johns, NYC College of Technology

I am an Accounting and Finance major. I have had more trouble getting into my accounting classes, not my engineering (transferred from engineering to accounting). I tried to sign up 2-3 weeks before classes started and one of my classes was closed already. So I had to drop to a part-time course load this semester and hopefully it’s open the next one.

It hasn’t been easy finding an adviser. I went up to the accounting business finance department and I was greeted by a secretary and I was trying to get advisement and she’s like we don’t really do that here… I talked to a professor and he was like, “you know, I’m not really an adviser,” and he directed me to go online and find the information there. 

I’ve needed other services as well like mental health. I did go a couple times to the counselors. They were very nice to me but they really are there to just give you a referral. They did give me a good referral…but I had to pay for it out of my own pocket. It was expensive. If there were people who would do that here, it would help students a lot, financially.

In terms of physical space in our classes, I have been in a lot of situations where the teacher would give up his desk and people would sit at their desk and the professor just stands up and lectures the whole time. When I first signed up here – I was trying to go to class in one of the elevators [but it malfunctioned and] spit me out into a locked maintenance closet and I was sitting in there for like 20 minutes banging on the door. I eventually had to call 911 and the firefighters came up and opened the door. There were 10 firefighters and NYPD standing outside. Some of these elevators have been out of service for who knows how long.

The biggest reason I had to drop out of the electronics engineering program is because there was no support for people in the program. Any support there was you’d have to hopefully be available during your professor’s office hours, and even then they’re not obligated to do that. The lack of support- the lack of readily available tutors on a schedule that I could make is what led me to drop out of that program and seek something that was my second choice, just because there was nobody here.


Stephanie Moy, Hunter College

I go to Hunter College, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies, and minoring in Asian American Studies. I would like to preface this by clarifying that although my story will sound oddly similar to other students’ experiences with college, it is not a testament of how poorly we manage our time, but rather it is a multitude of personal and systematic circumstances that make us have to work that much harder to leave college successfully with degrees.

Tuition has been going up every year, yet the quality of education is remaining stagnant. Having been at Hunter for nearly four years, I have seen a decrease in diversity and availability of course offerings throughout the semesters, making it harder to finish elective requirements for my majors. In addition to that, I have lost all my financial aid in the last two years of college, even though FAFSA has been asking for the same tax forms with the same necessary information.

To go from having my financial aid covering the entirety of my tuition to having absolutely no funding, it has been an extreme financial burden. As a full time student with an internship and volunteer extracurricular activities, working a part time job in order to fund my education is another stressor making it all the more difficult to have a successful higher education career. Because of the limited course selections, it makes it more difficult to rearrange my class schedules to allow availability for a part time job.

For my first three years of college, I was working not only as a server three to four days a week, but also as an usher. After attending classes and doing all my extracurriculars in the morning and afternoon, I would have to rush to work, work another seven to eight hours, suffer through immense nightly train delays, and get home at 2 or 3am, only to study and do more schoolwork.

Losing my financial aid and having to pay the ever increasing cost of tuition has compromised not only my educational success in college, but also my mental and physical health. For years, I was only getting two the three hours of sleep maximum, if any at all. In addition to that, there were days I did not have time to meal prep and bring lunch from home, leaving me no choice, but to either buy lunch at school or skip out on meals because I simply could not afford it. This is why CUNY schools need more funding for more opportunities to expand financial aid programs.

Maria Obmachkina, Hunter College

I am studying psychology.  I receive the Pell Grant and TAP.  I had to drop chemistry because it was so hard and I ended up becoming part time that semester.  It disqualified me from TAP mid semester, which was really stressful.  Another semester, I dropped Russian and the same thing happened.  If I didn’t receive financial aid at all during college I would be in a lot of debt, probably have a mental breakdown. 

I work as a home attendant 20 hours a week.  I used to do tutoring.  I pay for food out of pocket.  I live with my grandma and we have SNAP.  When I first got into school it was hard to register for the courses I needed.  If college was free it would mobilize and expand people.  People would have more time.  It would help people in need that can barely survive.  Transportation is the biggest challenge for me as a student.  It takes me 2 hours each way.  Also mental health.  There needs to be better mental health services and services for non traditional students.