Column: Student Government mental health policies are not enough

Alyssa Rasp / The Daily Gamecock

As the Envision campaign has officially won the Student Government elections, it is time to immediately hold our student representatives accountable for their stance on mental health. 

Dialogue about mental health preceding the elections was not detailed enough. Both the Mayberry-Crawford ticket and the Envision campaign focused primarily on awareness-based initiatives to promote mental health. We, as the student body, deserve more.

While advocating for established initiatives is important, a lack of awareness is not the only problem with students’ relationship with the mental health center. Samantha Mayberry conceded in an interview that “the Counseling Center is often up to a two-week wait.” Instead of exploring why it is so difficult for students to make a timely appointment, she suggested that students should look to other resources for aid. Issy Rushton did not allude to any of these issues.

As our student body president-elect, Rushton should herself be aware of student complaints regarding the mental health center. Though her opposition noted more specific issues, it also failed to advocate for any change involving on-campus aid.

Students are not only guaranteed access to 10 free counseling sessions but actually pay for them with their student health fee. They should not be struggling to schedule appointments they are already charged for.

While Student Government might not be able to implement sweeping changes to the mental health center, as representatives of the student body, they should be holding university services accountable. 

The Envision campaign’s mental health policy is simple: Educate students about resources by putting a section on syllabuses that informs them about mental health services. While awareness is incredibly important, knowledge of services will not improve mental health on campus if students are unable to receive the timely care they are guaranteed.

Rushton promised to implement this new policy within her first 100 days.

“Actions do speak louder than words, and that is one big action that will have a big impact on our student body,” Rushton said.

She argued against the notion that the information would not reach all students, saying that, because her professors have syllabus quizzes, both students and professors will be reached through their program.

This promise is based on the assumption the bill will pass.

In order for Rushton to accomplish this major part of her platform, the syllabus changes will have to go through faculty senate. Though she said advocating via social media “might not necessarily work,” the Envision team should be open to other forms of contacting students, especially those that do not mandate senate approval.  

Overall, all of the Student Government candidates' policies on mental health were underdeveloped and failed to recognize any deficiencies in the current care that is offered to students. Advocacy is more than awareness, and elected officials owe the student body more direct and achievable measures to improve the accessibility of care. 

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