Counselors connecting with students, lawmakers over need for improved mental health support in CSU

A student at Cal State Long Beach struggled with depression and anxiety due to parents divorcing, and gave up finding a counselor on campus because it took too long.

Another, facing a three-month wait list to see a counselor, went without the mental health counseling he needed.

These stories are among hundreds that have been conveyed to lawmakers recently in an effort to urge their support for SB 968, a bill that would improve campus counselor-to-student ratios in the CSU. The bill, authored by Sen. Dr. Richard Pan and sponsored by CFA, would require that campuses have at least one counselor for every 1,500 students.

Counseling faculty took their “Tissues for Issues” art installation to several campuses to raise awareness for the need to improve counselor-to-student ratios in the CSU. The display includes a large chair surrounded by 1500 tissues, representing the struggles thousands of students are dealing with, including depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety. Demand for counseling services also has seen an increase due to uncertainties surrounding immigration and DACA, and incidences of racism on our campuses.

They’ve also created a Facebook page featuring photos of the displays, including visits to Chico, San Francisco, and East Bay.

The latest display was today at Cal Poly Pomona, where there currently is only one counselor for every 3,200 students.

During the event at Long Beach, Senior Vanessa Gonzales relayed why mental health counseling should be prioritized.

“My sister is a student here at Cal State Long Beach. She suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and had to take a leave of absence because of reoccurring panic attacks. She had a very difficult time making arrangements to see a counselor on campus when she needed to see someone immediately. School causes so much stress. Mental health should be a top priority.”

The bill has been passed by the Senate Education Committee, and is scheduled to be heard again by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, May 25.