Truman State University plans to use revenue from a newly approved increase in the student health fee to provide higher-level counseling services to students.
The $10 increase to the existing $27 per semester student health fee was approved in last week’s student elections by a 1120-474 vote. The additional money — about $125,000 per year — will be used to provide psychological or psychiatric services to students through University Counseling Services. Student mental health is a concern for both students and administrators at Truman, especially after multiple student suicides over the past two academic years.
UCS Director Brenda Higgins said the money from the fee will go to the University’s General Fund for the specific purpose of paying salary and benefits for on-campus psychological or psychiatric services. She said the fee might not generate enough revenue to hire a full-time psychiatrist or psychologist, but it would be beneficial for UCS to have someone at a higher clinical level available on campus to handle more complex cases.
“What we are seeing, and what all universities are seeing, is an increase in acuity of the psychiatric needs of our clients,” Higgins said. “It’s no longer just mild anxiety or depression that we’re seeing … It’s things like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, more complex psychiatric disorders.”
Higgins said the details of a plan to use the funds have not been discussed yet because it is dependent on the individual the University hires to fill the position. She said she anticipates UCS would implement a system similar to that of the Student Health Center, where students are referred to the doctor in extreme cases for an opinion or further services.
For more information about Truman’s plans for the mental health fee, pick up a copy of The Index on April 26.