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Opinion | Mental Health on College Campuses Amid Covid

To the Editor:

Re “Fast-Spreading Variant Has Campuses Fearing a Mental Health Crisis” (news article, Dec. 23):

I’m the parent of a sophomore at Dartmouth, where three first-year students died by suicide in the 2020-21 school year. I could not agree more that colleges and universities must prioritize students’ mental health when addressing Covid-19 on their campuses. Numerous student deaths should not have been necessary to reach this reckoning, but now that we see a pattern, universities must do better.

Increasing student access to mental health professionals is a start to addressing the crisis, but even more important are holistic policies that recognize students’ needs to gather and learn together. Universities should prioritize student well-being and require vaccinations, test frequently and mandate masks. In the process, lives will be saved.

Gretchen Freeman Cappio

To the Editor:

Your article does not mention another crisis that is playing out in college mental health. Before the pandemic, university counseling center staff members were already stretched to the limits by an ever increasing demand for their services. Now, overburdened, underpaid and burned out, many therapists are leaving college counseling centers for less stressful work and better pay. Many are doing so to protect their own mental health.

Colleges across the nation are struggling to find counselors because working for university counseling centers is no longer as desirable as it used to be. Not only do college students have more mental health concerns, but there are now fewer mental health experts on campus to help deal with those concerns.

Bettina Bohle-Frankel
Evanston, Ill.
The writer is a staff psychiatrist at Northwestern University and on the executive leadership team of the Association for College Psychiatry.

To the Editor:

Thanks to Sarah Maslin Nir for the soul-lifting article “In a Pandemic, Bright Stories of Resilience” (front page, Jan. 3). The virulent effects of the pandemic have challenged our sense of resilience. Amid Covid stories clogged with fear, hopelessness, grief and uncertainty, these bright stories raise in us a sense of hope for the new normal.

When I, as an international student at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, am grappling with the brutal realities of the pandemic, the stories of Mark Finazzo and Jason Innocent inspire me to look for more solutions than problems. The growing threat of depression within the student community needs such stories of “remarkable resilience.”

I look forward to seeing more articles that articulate optimistic alternatives. Obviously, we all look forward to victory, not failure; hope, not despair; resilience, not withdrawal.

Malleswara Rao Ghattamaneni
Berkeley, Calif.

To the Editor:

It’s safe to say there were few reasons to celebrate 2021, and with the various crises facing the nation, 2022 must be a year of action.

Build Back Better is the blueprint. It recognizes how serious our situation is and sets a course for addressing these problems. But it is languishing.

If one Republican senator, just one of the 50, would simply acknowledge the many crises bearing down on us and offer support to Build Back Better, the process would then begin. It would be a very late start, but a start.

Just one of 50.

Robert Wagner
New York

To the Editor:

Re “A Pop Star Who Felt Trapped, and a Manager Who Benefited” (front page, Dec. 20):

Thank you for your continuing coverage of the financial exploitation of Britney Spears. Many individuals caught in the guardianship system suffer even greater indignity and harm: unnecessary institutionalization, overmedication, lack of adequate medical care and isolation from loved ones.

Guardianship as a license to steal is not new, used a century ago to rob the Osage in Oklahoma of proceeds from mineral rights granted by treaty. Despite laudatory statutory changes and media exposés over the past 30 years, the system in practice has not improved.

Indeed, with a burgeoning cottage industry of professional guardians — some of whom “serve” hundreds of individuals — overuse of guardianship and the absence of effective oversight have gotten worse.

Too many judges do not follow the law. State supreme courts, long aware of the issues, refuse to use their power of superintending control to ensure compliance. Finally, no one has the slightest idea of the number of individuals under guardianship. Very few states collect data. Older adults and individuals with disabilities are just not important enough to count.

Bradley Geller
Ann Arbor, Mich.
The writer, a lawyer, drafted the Guardianship Reform Act of 1988 as counsel to the Michigan House Judiciary Committee.

To the Editor:

Re “A Spouse Is a Blessing and a Curse” (First Person, Sunday Styles, Dec. 26):

Thank you, thank you, to Heather Havrilesky for her honest and accurate portrayal of marital feelings. Not since the scene in “Girls” when Lena Dunham’s character is told by her dying grandmother that she will hate her future husband at times but that “it will pass” have I felt so understood and validated.

Listening to my husband hack and snort in the shower has filled me with feelings that I have been ashamed of. What a relief to know that I am not the only one having unkind thoughts toward someone whom I do love dearly!

Lauren Smith
Monson, Mass.

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