MSU students advocate for more mental health resources
Sept. 23 – MANKATO – Minnesota State University students are calling for more mental health resources on campus, especially after the toll the pandemic has taken on their mental health over the past two years.
Student Government President Emma Zellmer said this is a top priority for student government this year as it continues to push to deliver on everything it set out last year.
Zellmer, who is new to the role this semester, plans to continue her predecessor’s plans. She noted that some things have already been accomplished.
One being the Gold Folder program, a digital compilation of all resources available on campus, including mental health tips, COVID-19 resources, pantry location and hours, and resources not urgent.
It can be found on the MSU website and is on the home screen of every university-owned device, such as all library computers and all faculty computers.
The resources included in the Gold Folder have always been available to students, but by making them all available with a single click, they have become more accessible.
“The proposal also called for an improved student welfare website,” Zellmer said. “The website seems to have a lot of things that students might need now and is continuously updated with the Gold folder.”
The student government not only wanted to make resources better known to students through the Gold Folder and the LifeHelp website, but they also offered to add more.
“The proposal called for the addition of a full-time student welfare case navigator who would act almost like a social worker,” Zellmer said.
“They would be hired to help students navigate where they need to go and help students who need to access medical care, psychiatric care, and other wellness issues in the Mankato community. “
The university has since hired a Ph.D. student to work part-time in order to fulfill the proposed role.
“Their main focus this year is to see what the program should look like and create a position,” Zellmer said of who was hired. “We will continue to advocate for the administration to make this a full-time position.”
The student government has also pushed to add a physical wellness center for students on campus, but the space has yet to be created.
“It looks like it would be hard to find a space,” Zellmer said. “All of our resources are spread across campus. It would be great to centralize them, however, we ran into the question of where that space would be and how we’re going to move all of the programs. We’re still working on it, but it doesn’t look like that will happen in the near future.”
While a physical center will take some time to come, student government hopes that hiring more diverse mental health counselors to accurately represent the student body will happen sooner rather than later.
“We don’t have a lot of diversity in our counseling centers,” Zellmer said. “We want to make sure our students can meet someone they can relate to and better understand their experiences.”
Later this year, the student government also plans to host a moment for MSU students to come to the State Capitol and advocate for more support and funding from state leaders regarding mental health resources for students.
“We know this is an issue that needs to be addressed,” said Zellmer, keen to raise awareness among those in higher positions.
David Jones, vice president of student affairs at MSU, agrees.
“MSU has a history of meeting the health and wellness needs of our students,” he said. “We believe these steps will continue to support students so they can continue their academic journey towards a degree.”