Save Our Students - Fix Mental Health Resources at USC

Save Our Students - Fix Mental Health Resources at USC

October 4, 2020
Petition to
Signatures: 96Next Goal: 100
Support now

Why this petition matters

We are the Green Ribbon Club, a student organization committed to destigmatizing mental health, to spreading mental health awareness, and to increasing accessibility to mental health resources. We are one of the multiple chapters throughout the country, including universities like Harvard and UCLA.  Our faculty advisor is Dr. Gerald C. Davison, a professor of psychology and a licensed clinical psychologist. We write to you today as a call to action for USC to improve their mental health services. 

We feel it is a necessity that students have a place on campus to feel comfortable addressing their mental health concerns. Unfortunately and respectfully, we have to express our disappointment that Engemann is not currently meeting this need as fully as it should be. Although strongly committed and willing to support students’ needs in any way we can, we only have so much power. While we can listen to the feelings of other students and create activities designed to reduce stress and anxiety via workshops and monthly meetings, we are not professionals and cannot provide counseling, therapy, and many other essentials that those seriously struggling with psychological problems are in desperate need of. As the official student health center at USC, Engemann is responsible for providing those services. While welcome changes and enhancements have been made the past year, we believe that additional steps need to be taken to meet the mental health needs of USC students. 

Many students are aware of our organization and a number of them have complained about how mental health issues are handled by Engemann. We have compiled some personal anecdotes from students’ experiences with Engemann and would like to share them with you at this time:

There have been reports of therapists who were condescending, who recorded sessions with student consent, albeit reluctantly, and who brushed off the students’ problems as “not that big of a deal.” We have also heard accounts of people’s depression not being handled properly, so much so that they had to be referred to a psychiatric hospital. Many students also felt lost and disheartened when their counseling was terminated after a month. After this, they received general and impersonal referrals and did not know what next steps to take.  Also, in order to get an appointment, some students had to talk about their struggles and mental health issues over the phone to a stranger to be “qualified” for counseling. Negative experiences such as these drive our earnest call for the following changes to be made:

  • Personalized referrals - each student has unique needs and providing them with a general list conveys callousness and lack of attention, which in turn can exacerbate the student’s distress.
  • Diversify staff - As the majority of mental health providers are white, many Black students and students of color can feel uncomfortable and have faced microaggressions in the past.
  • Make mental health a priority in orientation sessions, class syllabi, and campus events - Just as how hazing and drinking training is mandatory for students, appropriate mental health training should be as well. Students need to be educated on how to identify friends who are struggling and how they might support and perhaps even help them.
  • Improve the availability of up-to-date evidence-based treatment at Engemann and in outside referrals.
  • More accessible mental health screenings - Instead of just having counseling, students should be able to take an online questionnaire any time they feel like they are experiencing symptoms of mental illness. These questionnaires need to be carefully monitored and responded to by qualified mental health professionals.
  • Provide additional options for students who do not wish to be referred to off-campus facilities. 

The mental health needs of USC students merit and require improvement in what is currently available. The Green Ribbon Club wants to support institutional efforts to provide stronger resources. 

Thank you and Fight On!

Cordially and respectfully,
Green Ribbon Club

Support now
Signatures: 96Next Goal: 100
Support now