Emails were quickly rejected from students participating in UVolunteer Week’s “Write your Rep” event, which encouraged them to write their state representatives to request more funding for mental health services on campus.
A pre-written email was provided by the Service Council for students to read and send to their representative if they agreed and supported the message. “Utah Valley University is the largest university in Utah, but its therapist-to-student ratio is below 99% of U.S. colleges of similar size to UVU,” the email reads. “Our therapist-to-student ratio is currently 1:5018 while most colleges of our similar size have a ratio of 1:3721.”
With the current seven full-time positions dedicated to therapy, 15 additional therapists were requested in the email in order to meet the International Association of Counseling Services recommendation of therapist-to-student ratio.
Students who sent the email quickly received responses.
In an email sent to Megan Harrison, Rep. Francis Gibson said, “Please stop sending generic cut and paste emails. This is inefficient and not working. I want original thoughts.”
In an email send to Courtney Weeks, Rep Brian Greene said, “…After receiving a steady stream of the exact template email today, it occurred to me that this must have been a class assignment. What troubles me, however, is that UVU is apparently doing a very poor job of teaching university students to think for themselves…”
Jackson Miner, president of the Service Council, admitted that the generic email was not the best way to go about this. The goal was to allow students walking by during the 10 minutes between classes to hear the issue, decide if it is something they care about and want to put their name on and send it to people who can hopefully do something about it, according to Miner.
“It was really unfortunate that [representatives] were so caught up in the vehicle rather than the message.”
Miner wishes the representatives would have taken an educational approach and teach students the best way to reach out and then address the issues stated in the email.
According to the 2017 Spring Omnibus survey, 90 percent of students agreed that access to mental health services on campus is important and respondents said, “availability of mental health services is a serious concern.”
The survey also included a student’s response that said, “When seeking help for mental health, I was turned away at the counseling center because they were too full and wouldn’t even put me on a waiting list. This only served to worsen my condition.”
“I worry that this will intimidate students from reaching out to reps,” Miner said. “Young voices are frequently not as active… I want to change that.”
According to Miner, Mental Health Services haven’t asked to raise funding through student fees because they do not believe students should pay out of pocket and instead, services should be funded on a national level.