Content warning: This article contains references to suicide.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, local, national and global crises have steadily increased mental health problems in the community. Increased funding and more accessible mental health resources provide solutions and connect those in distress to quality care.
This year, UNC has an opportunity to take advantage of advances in mental health care and improve the university’s existing support systems for students, faculty, and community members.
A new suicide and crisis lifeline is now available to the community, according to the UNC Counseling and Psychological Services website. The number 988 is only three digits, making it much easier for him to remember than his previous ten-digit number, 800-273-8255.
Instead of calling the police, dialing 988 connects the caller to a national network of local emergency centers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the purpose of this number is to reduce 911 calls to mental health crises and reduce law enforcement response during mental health emergencies. His 2 million people with mental health problems have been incarcerated in the past year due to lack of police training for mental health emergencies. Additionally, SAMSHA reports that nearly a quarter of all police shootings in the past year have involved people with mental illness.
People of color are disproportionately affected by police brutality. For example, according to The Washington Post, black men are twice as likely to be killed by police as white men. .
Along with new hotline numbers, federal funding for mental health has increased. Instead of her $24 million previously allocated, the Biden administration is investing her $432 million in mental health services to support the expected 988 calls.
Funding mental health resources was also a topic of conversation in the UNC community.
UNC has historically struggled to meet demand for quality mental health resources on campus. In recent semesters, waiting lists for individual short treatment sessions, inadequate funding, and a lack of long-term mental health care options were ongoing problems associated with college CAPS programs.
This spring, students voiced their concerns about UNC’s mental health resources, and a petition circulated in the community calling for more CAPS funding. Accordingly, CAPS has confirmed that in fiscal year 2022 he will receive $81,667 and in fiscal year 2023 he will receive $140,000 in additional funding.
Both UNC and the country at large have worked to make mental health a priority. But more must be done to sustain these efforts locally in order to foster the best possible environment for student mental health. This includes making progress toward the goal of receiving mental health care services, maintaining CAPS funding growth, and spreading awareness of the Mental Health Crisis Hotline.
Topical issues such as inflation, climate change, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war between Russia and Ukraine permeate our daily lives. These highly impactful events inevitably create a pervasive atmosphere of stress and anxiety that negatively impacts the mental health of our communities.The challenges we face next year could exacerbate this. I have.
These stressful events won’t go away anytime soon, nor will the mental health issues that come with them. Community mental health resources are essential to well-being. The 988 is a step in the right direction.
If you need urgent or long-term mental health care, DTH Editorial Board.
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