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Lawmakers Asked To Address USU Student Mental Health Crisis

Student government officials at Utah State University say the number of college-aged Utah students who have committed suicide is cause for concern and is reason enough to declare a mental health crisis at all Utah universities.

USU student body leaders are in the process of approving a document that outlines their concerns about access to mental health services, campus awareness and project funding.

By declaring mental health a crisis the USUSA, Utah State University Student Association, hopes to encourage officers from other Utah student associations to work together to convince state lawmakers that suicide prevention and other mental health programs are needed and should be a funding priority during the upcoming legislative session.

"We are seeing so many people around the state who are suffering from mental health issues," said USUSA Student Advocate Vice President Matthew Clewett.

"This crisis really needs to be addressed with funding from the state Legislature to combat it head-on and specifically cut down on the wait times at CAPS(Counseling And Physiological Services) centers around the state."

After speaking with USU CAPS staff and students requesting the center’s services Clewett learned that clients are being told there is a four to six week wait list for students hoping to discuss their mental health.

“That is a long time for someone suffering from depression,” said Clewett.

The USUSA “Mental Health Crisis” bill includes data from research that shows over one-hundred students enrolled in Utah higher education institutions during the 2014-2105 school year attempted suicide and that fifteen of those students were successful.

"It is a tragedy and it is important that our administrators, students and our faculty ban together to address this crisis," Said Clewett. "I do strongly believe that it is a role of universities to take care of this problem."

Another 2015 study by the American College Health Association indicates higher education students do not have adequate access to information about anxiety and depression and that mental illness results in higher dropout rates, lower grades, and an increase in mortality rates.

At 14-years-old, Kerry began working as a reporter for KVEL “The Hot One” in Vernal, Utah. Her radio news interests led her to Logan where she became news director for KBLQ while attending Utah State University. She graduated USU with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and spent the next few years working for Utah Public Radio. Leaving UPR in 1993 she spent the next 14 years as the full time mother of four boys before returning in 2007. Kerry and her husband Boyd reside in Nibley.