UISG talks boosting mental health services, hopes to increase student participation

UISG hosted its second town hall to discuss mental health. The organization hopes to encourage more participation as the year goes on.

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UISG talks boosting mental health services, hopes to increase student participation

UISG meets in the Danworth Chapel on Monday. The UISG meeting focused on mental-heath issues. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

UISG meets in the Danworth Chapel on Monday. The UISG meeting focused on mental-heath issues. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

UISG meets in the Danworth Chapel on Monday. The UISG meeting focused on mental-heath issues. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

UISG meets in the Danworth Chapel on Monday. The UISG meeting focused on mental-heath issues. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

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UISG hosted a town hall on mental health Monday to hear student concerns and how mental-health services should be expanded or changed.

Topics of conversation brought up at Danforth Chapel included how to reach off-campus students, more training for friends, staff, and faculty, as well as raising awareness for students themselves to be able to identify their own mental health problems.

“This is a great example of the community turning out to talk about it,” University Counseling Service Director Barry Schreier said. “Ten years ago, no one would’ve been here talking about mental health.”

Approximately 30 students attended the second-ever UISG town hall, an increase over the last meeting, UISG President Jacob Simpson said. He said, however, throughout the year, he hopes to encourage more people to attend to represent a larger portion of the student population.

“One thing that I was really encouraged by with this town-hall meeting was that there was a lot more involvement from students rather than UISG members,” he said. “I’m confident that the more frequently we hold these, the more participation we will see from the campus.”

One way Simpson said he wants to raise awareness for the meetings is by marketing directly to relevant student organizations that are affected by the subject of the town hall.

One organization that was well represented at Monday’s forum was the UI Active Minds chapter, which works to raise awareness of mental health for students.

President of Active Minds Sammy Stoll said she was happy to bring the chapter to the town hall to talk about an issue she is passionate about, mental health.

RELATED: UI celebrates progress on mental health, opening of East Side location

Possible solutions presented on how to reach students off-campus included a suggestion of a survey to upperclassmen similar to the first-year student survey sent out to freshmen called the Excelling at Iowa Survey, a potential fall break, and a more open communication system for students and faculty to be able to communicate what the student’s needs are.

“I’m really excited that we even got to have this public discussion about mental health,” Bailey Carroll, the UISG director of external relations, said. “It’s a way for students to bring their concerns to us.”

In 2016, the state Board of Regents approved a $12.50 mental-health fee to be used to extend services on campuses. The fee supports an increased number of licensed counselors and covers the costs of University Counseling Service for students.

The service offers five locations, including one in the University Capitol Center, which opened this fall.

The service offers a variety of counseling services including group counseling, individual counseling, couple or relationship counseling, referrals, psychological consultation, and Trans-Inclusive services.

One program launched by UISG this month, the Student Leader Training Incentive Program, trains student organizations in issues such as mental health in exchange for money to be used for organizations.

Simpson said UISG always works to encourage people from all backgrounds to participate in community discussion.

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