President Barron announced at the Mental Health and Wellness Week Call to Action this afternoon that his office will match the Student Fee Board’s contribution to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Barron spoke on the importance of mental health at Penn State and what role CAPS plays in that.
Barron said his office will match the Student Fee Board’s allocation to the service up to $400,000 this year and up to $500,000 in a two-year period. The Student Fee Board has yet to convene as a whole, but once it does will determine how much of the Student Initiated Fee CAPS will receive.
“My view is that the Student Fee Board is going to play an incredibly important role, but I also want to indicate that the office of the president is committed to supporting the efforts to promote happier and healthier students,” Barron said. “I have considerable confidence that an additional source of revenue will become available for the next fiscal year of the university and I’m sufficiently confident in that to announce today that my intent is to match any dollars generated by any Student Fee Board Decision to support mental health up to $400,000 for the coming year and then I will increase that by another $100,000 for a total of a half a million within a two-year period.”
UPUA President Terry Ford outlined UPUA’s efforts to improve mental health at Penn State and how the Student Fee Board will be able to help.
“While these events are a critical first step, the biggest obstacle preventing students from accessing the care they need is the mental health care funding crisis we have mentioned,” Ford said. “Providing adequate financial and institutional support for Counseling and Psychological Services is essential to promoting student success in and out of the classroom.”
The Student Fee Board will determine the allocation for each of the sub-categories it now governs — including CAPS which falls under “services.” The contribution from the administration will go a long way for mental health at Penn State as CAPS works to help as many students as possible. Ford said that he is looking forward to the flexibility the Student Fee Board will provide in allocating student fees that will allow the Board to fund CAPS.
“As one of the two chairs of the Board, I have made it my top personal goal to ensure that this actually happens,” Ford said of the Student Fee Board funding CAPS.
CAPS Director Dr. Ben Locke also spoke at the event, acknowledging Barron’s contribution to CAPS in addition to the Student Fee Board’s and UPUA’s support. Dr. Locke spoke at the Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month, saying that CAPS is currently at capacity and urging trustees and administrators to support funding the vital service. Both students and UPUA have been vocal in supporting CAPS, with the class of 2016 making a donation to the service as its Senior Class Gift and UPUA passing legislation last week urging the Student Fee Board to allocate student funds to CAPS. Dr. Locke spoke to some of the statics at the MHWW event this afternoon that he presented at the UPUA meeting a few weeks ago.
Mental Health and Wellness Week will continue throughout the week around campus, with various tables in the HUB all week as well as a panel discussion with CAPS staff members on Wednesday night in 129 HUB at 5 p.m., among other events.