By Alison Mello, Lindsey Hoggins
Mental health is an overlooked issue in this Presidential election at a time when college campuses are overwhelmed by the student demand for treatment.
The President of the Active Minds club at Worcester State University, Liz Dugas, agrees, and believes that mental health affects students’ performance in both the classroom and in social environments. Active Minds works to educate the public about mental health disorders and the resources available to individuals, and hopes their work will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Dugas explains that mental illness is a serious issue for students because it “weighs students down and causes even more stress than needed. It makes it harder for students to improve their performance.”
Laura Murphy, the Director of Counseling at Worcester State University, acknowledges that there are many great services at Worcester State, including individual counseling, group counseling, outreach services, and sexual assault response programs. Students should recognize that there are already several great mental health services available at Worcester State University aimed at aiding students throughout college. These services and programs help students both socially and academically at the University. Murphy recognizes that outside the university in the Worcester community it takes longer to receive help, “even up to 6-8 weeks for an appointment, which is too long.” Mental health services still need to become more accessible outside of the university.
Mental health services, according to the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, are “the use of a variety of psychosocial and pharmacological therapies, either individual or group, including biological, psychological and social.” This upcoming election, and the future President of the United States, could potentially change the way that these mental health services are available within the country.
Hillary Clinton includes in her platform that mental health should be as important as physical health. “I believe that together we can make sure that the next generation gets quality mental health care—without shame, without stigma, without barriers. And that we can do so much more to help people right here and now.” She addresses the difficult stigma that comes along with mental illness and she plans to put an end to it. Clinton has also addressed that many college students need to have more access to awareness programs that can advise them where to go to receive more help.
According to her campaign website, Clinton’s major goal is to set up more resources for suicide prevention. She wants to expand Medicaid and Medicare coverage and put billions of dollars towards community health clinics. Clinton is also very interested in more federal funding for studies on the brain and human behavior. By providing more funding for these efforts, Clinton hopes to help fight the battle against mental illness.
Although Donald Trump has said that America’s mental health system needs work, he has not made any suggestions on how to fix the issue. Trump addressed mental health on his campaign website, saying, “we need to expand treatment programs, because most people with mental health problems aren’t violent, they just need help. But for those who are violent, a danger to themselves or others, we need to get them off the street before they can terrorize our communities.”t. Trump relates mental health to gun control, saying that gun-free zones are just “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill.” When Trump speaks of mental illness, he relates it directly to gun violence.
Trump mentioned funding for mental health services on his website under health care. He stated, “there are promising reforms being developed in Congress that should receive bipartisan support.”
Jill Stein seldom brings up the topic of mental health. Like Trump, she links gun violence directly to those who suffer from mental illness. Stein stated, “we need background checks, so that the mentally ill are not possessing and using guns.” She does believe, however, that mental health problems are being neglected and there is a strong need for support.
Stein mainly addresses an increase in mental health facilities when gun violence is brought up. On Stein’s campaign website, she claims to want “Medicare for All” that will make mental health services available to anyone without co-pays, premiums, or deductibles.
Similarly to Trump and Stein, Gary Johnson’s main focus appears to be on keeping guns away from the mentally ill. Johnson does not believe that people should be burdened with more restrictions in order to purchase a gun except “for criminals and the mentally ill.” He often avoids the topic of mental health and does not address the care and treatment for mental illness.
Back in 1998, as the governor of New Mexico, Johnson vetoed the mental illness coverage parity with physical illness. The HB 315 bill would have set forth a pilot program for state employees, giving them coverage for mental illness equal to that of anything for physical illness.