Proposal : Deep Avaiya

Date:               7 April 2024

To:                   Jan Clayton, Ed.D.

Interim President, Northeast Campus

From:             Deep Avaiya, a student at Tarrant County College

Subject:          Proposal for Enhancing Mental Health Support Services at Tarrant County College

Purpose

The growing concern about students’ mental health at Tarrant County College (TCC) calls for this proposal, which aims to ensure that comprehensive mental health support is available to all students. The combination of services that is currently available has the commendable goal of supporting students to become successful in their academic pursuits. Still, the current support for students is fragmented, with service offices and resources in multiple locations across the campus. As a result, there can often be a lack of communication between the offices and resources that a student uses, which can lead to unfortunate and unnecessary confusion.

Summary

The state of mental health in higher education has become a significant concern, with a substantial negative effect on the academic performances of students, their retention rates, and their overall well-being. This proposal aims to assess the current status of mental health support at Tarrant County College, identify any possible areas that could use some improvement, and to suggest changes that would help the college to better meet the needs of its students in this area.

Introduction

The country is beginning to focus on the college students’ mental health; this is something that has been talked about a lot, actually, recently. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health says it’s becoming an increasingly prevalent issue among this demographic. We’re seeing a rise in the number of students seeking out help; we’re seeing a rise in the number of students diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or other forms of mental health problems. I think the context in which this happens is also important; it’s happening at a time when there are a number of other stressors burdening college students— with academic demands; with financial struggles, and with just the personal, familial, and relationship issues that are part and parcel of life. And for some students, this may push them towards a cliff’s edge.

Background

Research shows that a significant proportion of students are experiencing symptoms related to depression, anxiety, and other mental health states (Eisenberg et al.). That means there appears to be an even higher prevalence of mental health challenges among our college students than in the past. This can and does impact academic work and result in poor retention and graduation rates. Student well-being can and does take a hit. And these students, despite the huge demand that their issues place on our resources, are not seeking and utilizing the kinds of help that could ameliorate their illnesses and improve their situations. Colleges and universities are only now starting to realize how pervasive and serious the situation is (Hunt and Eisenberg).

Current State of Mental Health Services at TCC

Tarrant County College now has some mental health support services available. These are counseling and referral services. It is important to evaluate how well these meet student demand so we can know where our college can do better. With your help, your voice can become a powerful matter of public record.

Proposed Tasks

  1. Administering a comprehensive survey is a must: The survey would enable you to evaluate Tarrant County College students’ mental health needs, their awareness of the support services presently in place, and their resource preferences.
  2. Existing Crisis Network Analysis: Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the existing mental health resources on campus, which may include counseling services, support groups, and online resources,in order to determine the strengths and shortcomings of these resources.
  3. Learn through Analyzing: Analyzing the survey results and assessing the findings are the means through which to discover areas for improvement and pinpoint gaps in the current mental health support system. With this information, recognizing where we need improvement is the more important task at hand.
  4. Develop a game plan to improve customer experiences. Offer a scheme to extend and strengthen mental health support services and consider the needs that were established. Incorporate additional counseling professionals, offer training for stress management and mental health awareness, and revise websites that offer details into this plan.
  5. Make suggested changes happen: To make the suggested changes work, it will be necessary to cooperate with the establishment’s administration, mental health professionals, and student organizations.
  6. Monitoring and assessment of the efficacy of: It is crucial to initiate mechanisms for ongoing scrutiny and evaluation of the improved provisions to ensure that they are meeting the demands of the student body and make changes accordingly.

Schedule

  • Weeks 1–2: Develop and administer the student survey.
  • Week 3–4: Review current services and analyze survey results.
  • Week 5–6: Develop recommendations and a plan for enhancing services.
  • Weeks 7-8: Implement changes and begin outreach efforts.
  • Week 9–12: Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the enhancements.

Benefits of Enhanced Mental Health Services

Improved mental health services at Tarrant County College might bring a multitude of good results. They might include better academic performance, with more students graduating on time, in addition to sharper student retention rates. One of the key opportunities that might arise from such an initiative is the chance to enlighten people and tear down the stigma attached to mental health conditions. Two out of three students nationwide who seek counseling do not go in for counseling because they are not convinced that their situation might warrant it. Indeed, seeking mental health counseling seems quite definitely a sign of a neglected aspect of one’s life, and people—especially young people—are not good at owning up to that. Interpersonal violence can have a hugely negative impact on both the lives of the people involved and on a college as a whole. With the recent conversations about the increased number of sexual assaults on college campuses, there is now an opportunity to provide powerful mental health counseling services to women who have experienced such events.

Experience

As a student at Tarrant County College, I couldn’t help but notice how much mental health issues were affecting my peers. Because I was privy to the inner workings of a plethora of student organizations, I was more in tune with what was going on with my peers. I had a front row seat, it could be said, to the problems that my cohort was facing. And there was no shortage of problems.

Implementation Plan

A plan will be enacted to ensure that the mechanisms necessary to implement the recommended enhancements are successfully put in place.

  • Creating a task force: To oversee the implementation process, we must establish a task force that includes students, faculty, mental health professionals, and administrators.
  • Creating Additional Resources: The needs identified should drive the expansion of resources, including support groups, online resources, and workshops.
  • Training and Hiring: As we are seeing an increasing demand for services, it is necessary for us to train the current counseling staff in various areas of specialized mental health. We must also hire extra staff to allow us to have a pool of qualified counselors in each area.
  • Outreach and Education Campaign: Launch a campaign to raise awareness about improved mental health services and encourage students to seek help when they feel the need.
  • Process for feedback: In order to gather feedback from both students and staff about how well the new services are running, an effective process must be put in place. This allows for modifications to be made as necessary.

Budget Considerations

The improvement of mental health amenities will need a financial infusion. It will have to pay for additional counselors, training, and materials. Of course, that’s easier to call for than to achieve. No one has prepared a comprehensive budget for such major events. Part of the plan, though, is to do exactly that. Otherwise, there just aren’t the necessary financial resources for the situation. The government, after all, can’t just wallow in deficits. High-ranking officials have made it clear that the situation is dire, and if major improvements (and not just improvements in public relations) are to be made, it will have to take a 5 to 10 years, sustained effort.

Conclusion

The challenge of meeting the student body’s mental health needs is growing daily. Improvements must be made to the program that Tarrant County College has put in place. It is a rare opportunity for our local community college to so closely realign a program that was meant to set a welcoming atmosphere for all students. If the student is not well, the close-knit atmosphere that TCC hopes to achieve can collapse. Like the domino effect, the student’s lack of well-being can fall onto the teacher, then onto the local community, and potentially down the line, lead to a collapse of sorts. It’s a lose-lose situation.

 

References

  1. Center for Collegiate Mental Health, “2019 Annual Report.” Pennsylvania State University, 2020.
  2. Eisenberg, Daniel, et al., “Prevalence and Correlates of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidality Among University Students.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 77, no. 4, 2007, pp. 534-542.
  3. Hunt, Jenny, and Eisenberg, Daniel. “”Mental Health Problems and Help-Seeking Behavior Among College Students.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 46, no. 1, 2010, pp. 3–10.
  4. Kadison, Richard, and DiGeronimo, Theresa Foy. College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It. Jossey-Bass, 2004.
  5. Kitzrow, Martha Anne. “The Mental Health Needs of Today’s College Students: Challenges and Recommendations.” NASPA Journal, vol. 41, no. 1, 2003, pp. 167–181.
  6. Lipson, Sarah Ketchen, et al., “Increases in Depression and Suicidal Ideation Among U.S. College Students: Evidence from Two National Surveys.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 68, no. 3, 2021, pp. 541–548,.