Dear Governor Brown,
Earlier today, you vetoed AB 2017, a bill focused on increasing funding for college mental health services. The bill received bipartisan support from both the Assembly and Senate, along with backing from mental health advocates.
Your reasoning behind this decision was based on the numbers. I know of your recent decisions for striking down bills, most of which under the assumption that we can’t spare the money for it. I am not going to argue with this because I lack both insight on the state budget and the skills to draw such a conclusion.
However, this seems to be a recurring theme. Politicians talk, make speeches, shed tears, but when it comes to actual action, we see nothing from our legislators. Consider this twenty-four page document, which I will gladly summarize for you:
- One in four students have a diagnosable illness
- 40% do not seek help
- 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
- 50% have been so anxious, they struggled in school
- Many students have cited stigma and lack of resources for not seeking help.
- Half of all college students cited their campus as not being supportive with regards to mental health.
Mental health is not a bad day once in awhile or the moment when we need to clutch a stress ball. Mental health is an umbrella term; it is intertwined with and as important as physical health. The spectrum is endless and only a portion of it was represented in my project for college students & mental health. In California, we are seeing suicides as early as in high school. We witness issues such as substance abuse, eating disorders, yet we continue to shrug.
It is unacceptable that most children with mental illnesses remain untreated. It is ridiculous that the wait times for a counseling appointment in the UC system can last for three months. Governor Brown, California’s economy might be globally ranked, but suicides are on the rise. This issue needs to be addressed on a fiscal level. We need both prevention and clinical interventions, but money does not grow in trees. Perhaps it’s time the state walks the walk and considers long-term investment in college mental health.