Recently, the Minnesota State University, Mankato Student Government passed a Mental Health Bill in an effort to shine light on the issues of mental health in people between the ages of 18 and 24, the target age of students on campus. Since April of 2020, the Student Government has been working with a nonprofit called CultureChange to change the stigma on mental health at MNSU.
According to Senator Minahil Khan, “This initiative will help push and expand Mental health support and training to help students dealing with mental illness.”
This bill will have four main resolutions to start off with, and then will continue to grow as resolutions are solved. The first of the resolutions is that students will receive a free online mental health course. This resolution will help students realize what resources they have on campus to help with their mental health, and it also gives the school some insight on what the student population’s general mental health looks like. That way the school can find new ways to help the students succeed.
The next resolution is that MNSU will give the opportunity for all faculty and staff to become registered in Mental Health First Aid at no cost. This resolution will allow employees of the school to be more equipped to help students with their mental health issues.
“We all know that if someone is having a heart attack, we do CPR, but what if someone starts going through a mental illness episode? How can we help them, how can we direct them to resources, how can we see signs of our students struggling. That’s really what we ask our faculty and staff to be on the lookout for,” said Student Body President Andrew Trenne.
Another part of this resolution is Mental Health First Aid will also be required for nursing, law enforcement, and education programs.
According to Trenne, “I believe this is something that curriculums should be teaching. Now we have to think, how can we get those students in those programs also trained from Mental Health First Aid and how can we have our future nurses be registered in this.”
This resolution will allow MNSU staff to be more prepared to help their students, and it will help the students be more equipped to help people within their fields after graduating.
The third resolution is The Student Basic Needs Committee will monitor students overall mental health and will report back to the senate if any problems arise.
“We want to tackle and talk about the mental health of our student body since it is increasingly becoming a bigger issue, so how can we assume student government can be better equipped to adapt to talk about all students’ needs, instead of just including how they are important to us,” says Trenne.
This resolution is important as it shows the student government doesn’t just want to talk the talk, they want to take action and help the students of MNSU with their mental health issues in any way they can.
The last resolution includes the school providing telehealth counseling services to enrolled students during times when campus is closed, such as summer break, holidays, or a pandemic.
According to Trenne, “If you’re a student and you are enrolled for the fall semester, but it’s summer break, you technically can’t go to the Counseling Center. Unfortunately, the center doesn’t have enough funding for those not in a class. The only exception is if you’re enrolled in a course for those said breaks.”
This is especially an issue this year, as many students suffered with their mental wellbeing due to the events of COVID-19 and numerous social injustice issues. For many students the counseling center is their only place to go, so making sure it is available to all students at any time is extremely important.
Trenne and the student government don’t want mental health to just be swept under the rug and ignored. Through these resolutions, and many more resolutions to come, they hope to help be part of the solution of the mental health issues on campus.