Content Warning: This article contains references to suicide.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, local, national and global crises have contributed to a steady increase in community mental health issues. Increased funding and more accessible mental health resources provide solutions and connect those affected with quality care.
This academic year, UNC has an opportunity to take advantage of advances in mental health care and make better use of the university’s existing support systems for students, faculty and community members.
According to the UNC Counseling and Psychological Services website, a new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is now available for community service. The number – 988 – is only three digits, which makes it easier to remember than its 10-digit predecessor: 800-273-8255.
Instead of the police, dialing 988 connects the caller to a national network of local crisis centres. The number’s goal is to reduce calls to 911 for mental health crises, hoping to reduce law enforcement response to mental health emergencies, substance abuse and mental health services management. A lack of police training for mental health emergencies has resulted in two million people with mental health problems being incarcerated in the past year. Additionally, SAMSHA reports that nearly a quarter of fatal police shootings in the past year involved people with mental illness.
People of color are disproportionately affected by police brutality. For example, blacks are twice as likely to be killed by the police as their white counterparts, according to the Washington Post. Therefore, they are more likely to die from mental health-related emergencies.
In addition to the new hotline, federal funding for mental health has increased. Instead of the $24 million previously allocated, the Biden administration has allocated $432 million to mental health services to support about 988 pending calls. This funding supports local and backup call centers as well as a sub-network of Spanish speakers who use the hotline.
Funding for mental health resources is a topic of discussion for the UNC community.
UNC has historically struggled to meet the need for quality mental health resources on campus. In recent semesters, waiting lists for brief individual therapy sessions, inadequate funding and a lack of long-term mental health care options are ongoing. Problems with the university’s CAPS program.
Last spring, students expressed their concerns surrounding UNC’s mental health resources and appeals. A call to the community to increase CAPS funding. In response, CAPS was approved for additional funding of $81,667 for fiscal year 2022, and $140,000 for fiscal year 2023.
Both UNC and the nation as a whole have worked to make mental health a priority. But to foster the best environment for student mental health, we need to do more to sustain these efforts locally. This includes pushing The goal of having long-term mental health care services on campusMaintaining these increases in CAPS funding and expanding awareness of the mental health crisis hotline.
Topics such as inflation, climate change, the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war and more permeate our daily lives. These high-impact events inevitably create an atmosphere of widespread stress and anxiety and have a negative impact on the mental health of our communities. The challenges we face in the coming year may upset this.
These stressful events aren’t going away anytime soon, and neither are the mental health issues that come with them. Community mental health resources are critical to safety. 988 is a step in the right direction.
If you need immediate or long-term mental health care, check out our list of local and national resources. DTH Editorial Board.
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