Top universities see mixed results from mental health services outreach

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In a 2011 study, Leading Causes of Mortality Among American College Students at Four-Year Institutions, Dr. James Turner found that the rate of student suicide remained constant from the 1980s forward, suggesting that there is a lack of preventative action. Suicide far outpaces the highly-publicized shootings and attempted mass killings that are often the focus of mental health discussions in the press.

Often, seeking out help means running the risk of being stigmatized and, worse, even discriminated against by the university. Rachel Williams, who attempted suicide while a student at Yale University, had to withdraw from the university to seek help. When the tried to return, she was met with imposing requirements to "screen her" for "liability."

"Those of us who have admitted, at some point or another, that we are legitimately not okay, have learned that there are real and devastating consequences of telling the truth," she wrote in the New York Daily News. "Because Yale does not want people who are not okay. Yale does not want people who are struggling, who are fighting. Yale, out of concern for its own image, wants them to leave. And Yale makes them."

It's not just Yale, say advocates for mental health services and reform at universities. A sexual assault victim at the University of Pennsylvania, struggling with anxiety after the fact, has gone public with her claims of discrimination at the university. She is backed by reports of a lack of services at Yale and a long wait (averaging 13 days, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian) at Pennsylvania for mental health services on campus.

The problem goes well beyond the two schools, advocates warn.

 
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