To: The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees
We would like to bring awareness to an issue that has been brought to light on the campus of the University of South Carolina. There is currently a shortage of efficient and timely mental health care available to students through Student Health Services on our campus. This problem is overwhelmingly due to a shortage of staff and resources available for counseling use within the University. On average, approximately 30% of students will suffer from anxiety and/or depression at some point during their time at USC. With a student body population of around 35,000, that means that over 10,000 students may be in a situation where they might need counseling services. However, most therapists can only see about 150 students per year; this means we would need 70 therapists to provide mental health support for all students who need it. Currently, there are only 20 therapists working at USC, so the staffing cannot come close to meeting these needs. As a result, many students report receiving underwhelming care. For this reason, we ask the Board of Trustees to consider the following:
A. Adding an additional 7-10 licensed mental health professionals to the existing service.
B. Facilitating the re-introduction of an effective peer-led mental health counseling program.
C. Including additional space within residence halls for counseling offices in the University’s long term master plan.
While we recognize these changes are difficult to balance with the many demands of a growing university, we hope that they will be given consideration. These changes reflect the importance of addressing college mental health by making access to services more readily available.