By: Gabby LeBron
(DISCLAIMER: TOPIC MAY BE SENSITIVE FOR SOME READERS!)
Over the past two years, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased acknowledgment of mental health issues in our country. As our mental health crisis boomed, therapists and counselors became inaccessible to students. According to research by the American Psychological Association, therapists are currently taking more clients than ever before and even being forced to turn some potential clients away. This has had a detrimental effect on our North Carolina community, especially for students.
This past weekend there were two reported suicide attempts on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. In response to this devastating news, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced that classes were canceled on Tuesday the 12th to observe a mental health day.
“I encourage every student to use this time to rest and to check in with each other during that day”, Guskiewicz said in a public statement from Sunday. “Reach out to a friend, a classmate, or colleague and ask them, ‘honestly, how are you doing?’”
The mental health day is accompanied by other efforts from the university, such as increased availability from the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Guskiewicz also introduced a campus-wide mental health awareness campaign, the Heels Care Network, which will debut in a few weeks.
However, some students insist that these measures are too little, too late. Students have been asking for mental health and wellness days since the beginning of this school year. According to WRAL, some UNC-Chapel Hill students planned a protest on Wednesday to urge the university to preemptively provide more adequate mental health resources to prevent future crises. Students are also stressing the inadequacy of counseling services on campus, saying CAPS needs improvement before it can be effective. In addition, parents held a rally Thursday on the campus to support students and raise suicide awareness.