SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As budget discussions continue and the General Assembly nears adjournment, the chairs for the House Higher Education, Appropriations-Higher Education and Mental Health and Addiction Committees are encouraging their colleagues to support increased funding for college campus mental health services.
“The governor’s proposed budget outlines a 5% increase in higher education operational funding,” Higher Education Chair Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said. “This is needed funding that universities should take advantage of to reinforce and boost their on-campus mental health offerings. These services help those who are suicidal, facing substance abuse issues, depression and other serious challenges that deserve support and awareness.”
“While there was always a need for stronger mental health services, this pandemic is putting increased strain on all of us,” Mental Health and Addiction Chair Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, said. “This has been a tumultuous couple of years, with little sense of normalcy on campuses. Three years ago we passed legislation that would provide mental health services to support our students on college campuses. It is critical that we put the financial investment in our budget to fund this legislation to ensure every student can reach their full potential. Let’s make sure students have the resources they deserve to access the support they need.”
“In the past 20 years, the number of college students with clinical depression and suicidal tendencies has tripled, and approximately 1.6 million students sought counseling assistance last year,” Appropriations-Higher Education Chair La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, said. “It is perhaps no wonder that acts of violence on campuses have increased. One-third of all college students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, a 14% increase in the last decade. Only 25% of college students receive treatment. The pandemic has exacerbated this issue. In fall 2020, 89% of college students experienced stress or anxiety because of COVID-19. Graduation rates are lower for students with mental health conditions, especially Black, Latinx and low income students. Dropout rates are 2.5 times higher. There was a time when there was a stigma around seeking mental health support now students are testifying in Springfield pleading for more mental health support on college campus. We cannot leave Springfield this year without increasing funding for colleges to provide mental health support for Illinois’ students.”
“We want all of our students to succeed, and that starts by creating a healthy environment that includes accessible mental health support,” Higher Education Vice Chair Maurice West, D-Rockford, said. “We need to be mindful of the unique challenges students are currently facing, and our budget should reflect this critical aspect of the academic experience.”
“Campus mental health cannot be overlooked as we put together a budget this year,” Mental Health and Addiction Vice Chair Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, said. “Together, our committees have held hearings that have provided valuable insight on how mental health is handled at our universities. By increasing our investment in higher education operations, we can give our institutions the resources they need to reach more students.”
“Investing in mental health services now will have a beneficial impact for years to come,” Appropriations-Higher Education Vice Chair Nicholas Smith, D-Chicago, said. “The more students we can help deal with their challenges in a professional, healthy way, the better their mental health will likely be down the road. Let’s make sure campus mental health is a priority in this budget.”
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