New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Opinion: NYU needs better mental health services

Despite the increasing prevalence of mental health issues among the student body, the university’s resources lack personalized care, limit accessibility and respond inadequately to mental health crises.
Taylor Grace Heller
The Student Health Center on 726 Broadway. (Taylor Grace Heller for WSN)

Growing up under the taxing burden of mental illness, my emotional health was my No. 1 priority in my first year at NYU. Weary of my newfound independence, I sought out university-based resources that I hoped would appeal to my concerns as a young adult and student. Eager to make use of the university’s self-proclaimed “greatest mental health resource” on campus, I looked into the offerings of the Wellness Exchange, only to find it much less accessible than advertised.

Mental health treatments are not one size fits all — some benefit from medication, others from individual or group therapy. As someone who prefers in-person treatment, I found NYU’s text exchanges and sporadic phone calls to be disheartening. It is not hard to feel lost at such a large university, and NYU’s lack of concern further diminished my self worth, reducing me to a number — a mere statistic. Discouraged by my own experience with school services, I could not help but wonder whether mine reflected that of the majority.

Young adults age 18-25 have the highest prevalence of mental illness in the nation. In addition, one in every five New Yorkers experience mental illness each year. In the center of Manhattan, NYU students are faced with a variety of stressors encompassing academic, social and safety concerns. Due to its location, NYU is faced with a unique set of challenges surrounding mental health. 

With the second-largest international student population amongst American universities, standing at 22.2%, NYU students are especially affected by global concerns. Specifically this past fall semester, many students experienced mental wellness struggles surrounding the Israel-Hamas war. While NYU did increase advertisement of their Wellness Exchange in an attempt to alleviate the “emotional toll” of the events, students continued to express disappointment in the university’s handling of on-campus tensions over the conflict.

NYU boasts their variety of mental health resources through the Counseling and Wellness Services. Their work aims to cover student struggles with “stress, anxiety, alcohol or drugs, eating, depression, family issues, suicidal thoughts and more” through short-term counseling and wellness workshops. Students are offered a fixed amount, determined by their assigned counselor of sessions, free of charge, and then referred to external services if they wish to continue seeking treatment. Alongside counseling services, NYU provides virtual Wellness Workshops covering a variety of topics including academics, mindfulness and identity.

“Having these resources at hand is something NYU does positively for the well-being of students in terms of convenience, as it allows students the option to get care without having to seek it externally,” said an anonymous representative from NYU’s Active Minds, a student organization dedicated to mental health on campus.

NYU also offers psychiatry through Counseling and Wellness Services, providing students with assessment and prescription for psychiatric medications if deemed necessary. Through psychiatry and urgent and short-term counseling, NYU considers its efforts a sufficient response to “feedback received from students and families asking the SHC to ensure that accessible and affordable psychiatric care is available at the SHC for any matriculated NYU student in need of these services.” Despite the university’s resources, however, mental health struggles persist on campus. 

“It’s difficult to hear about negligence and lack of communication, but I can empathize with the school,” said Steinhardt first-year student Ava Santiesteban. “When I was abroad there were designated mental health professionals, and that was a beneficial structure, but not feasible for New York.”

One-on-one sessions on the New York campus are hard to come by, but even when attained, students often do not find them as helpful as they had hoped.

“I felt kind of rushed to leave the session and also wasn’t able to meet a lot,” said CAS student Allison Zhu. “Obviously, it’s a free service and I’m not expecting to get cured, but it was stressful. If you haven’t gone to any sort of therapy before it’s a good start.”

The convenience of these resources are helpful for short-term care, but the stigma around mental health amongst the student body persists. It is NYU’s responsibility to integrate mental health into campus conversation and express deeper concern for the wellness of their students, who are growing wary of their neglect, left in the dark with questions unanswered.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Isabella Jambrina at [email protected].

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