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.