The Wesleyan Argus | University Creates Mental Health Coalition Following Connecticut House Bill 6402

c/o Alexandra Turtil, photo editing assistant

University Counseling and Psychology Services (CAPS) announced the creation of a new Campus Mental Health Coalition this semester. The decision comes in pursuant to the approval of House Bill No. 6402 by the Connecticut General Assembly in July 2021, which mandated the creation of mental health coalitions at all Connecticut higher education institutions.

Beginning in January 2022, Bill 6402 aims to increase the accessibility of college mental health counseling tools and services through the creation of mental health coalitions. The coalitions aim to assess the current state of campus mental health services, identify existing weaknesses that prevent students from getting the help they need, and recommend public health improvements to mental health programs on the campus.

“Each campus mental health coalition should conduct an assessment of the presence of mental health services and programs offered by the institution…[and] review the results of this assessment and develop a plan to address any weaknesses in these services,” the bill states.

Although the legislation directs colleges to organize a mental health coalition, each university is encouraged to tailor the specific functions of the committee to the needs of their respective student body. New The Mental Health Coalition will assess and strengthen the University’s existing mental health services, with CAPS Director Dr. Jennifer D’Andrea and Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley chosen to lead the committee . Members of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) are also expected to join the project, although specific students have yet to be selected.

Dr. D’Andrea highlighted his gratitude to the General Assembly for allowing monitoring of student mental health to remain in the hands of the university, seeing it as a way to amplify commitment to improving services student mental health.

I appreciate that the State of Connecticut recognizes the responsibility to support the mental health of all college and university students, while realizing that only individual institutions can determine how best to support mental health and well- be from their student communities. “D’Andrea wrote in an email to The Argus.

Whaley also explained that he views the Mental Health Coalition as an opportunity to bring together the voices of students, staff, and other campus organizations to identify and address mental health issues.

“The purpose of the coalition is to bring together members of various constituent groups on campus to evaluate the mental health services and programs offered by the institution,” Whaley wrote in an email to The Argus. “As in many areas of the institution, student leaders give voice to critical issues and always help us find better solutions to the challenges we see.”

Whaley explained that the University coalition will focus on face-to-face services, virtual therapy tools and building resilience from a public health perspective. He also stressed that the coalition will rely on student participation to be able to improve mental health services on campus.

“[The] WSA will play a pivotal role in this, but there are other students focused on these issues that we also want to hear from as we begin to move forward,” Whaley said.

Although the pandemic and the usual strain of college academic and social demands have had an impact on student mental health, Whaley is confident that the Mental Health Coalition will elevate existing health services and improve the quality of student life. .

“CAPS, Student Affairs, and WSA have continually thought about how to better meet the mental health needs of students,” Whaley wrote. “The pandemic has exacerbated [existing mental health] Questions. The CAPS team is committed to supporting Wesleyan students so they can succeed in college and on campus.

Aaron Goldberg can be contacted at [email protected]

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