Kent State yet to determine specifics of mental health fee

The Board of Trustees passed a proposal in June 2019 to add a $20 fee to students’ bursar bills in an effort to improve mental health services on campus. 

Abigail Mack

Parking tickets, textbooks and difficult roommates occupy the minds of many college students. However, a 2018 survey conducted by the World Health Organization shows mental health is becoming a bigger concern, with one-third of first year students reporting a mental health disorder globally.      

In accordance with this rise, Kent State’s Board of Trustees unanimously passed a proposal in June 2019 to add a $20 fee to students’ bursar bills to enhance mental health services on campus.

“Despite being passed by the Board of Trustees in June and aimed to start in Fall 2019, the fee still waits for a legislative provision on the state budget bill,” said Associate Vice President of the Division of Student Affairs Jennifer Kulics. 

“We are not sure how or when the fee will be implemented at this time, but there’s ongoing committees and conversations with multiple divisions and departments on campus,” Kulics said, “to actually constitute a proposal to go back to the Board of Trustees for approval.” 

As of now, the university projects this fee to be possibly implemented starting summer or fall 2020. The actual amount of the fee, which had been previously stated as being $20, has not yet been determined. The question of whether regional students will be impacted by and included in this fee also continues to be discussed by the university.    

According to a document from the Board of Trustees, “… an opportunity exists to enhance these service offerings even further in alignment with the university’s Students First strategic roadmap priority, the Kent State of Wellness initiative and Governor DeWine’s RecoveryOhio initiative.” 

“This expansion of services will aim to enhance personnel and programming resources,” Kulics said. In particular, the university wants to increase clinician-to-student ratio, programmatic funding for prevention and education, and make mental health programs more multidisciplinary and multifaceted, focusing on topics such as substance abuse and suicide prevention.   

“We never stop making appointments for students even when our psychologists and therapists’ schedules are tight,” Chief Psychologist of Psychological Services Pamela Farer-Singleton wrote in an email. “Currently, we do not have a waitlist for counseling. In the past several fall semesters the office has established a waitlist by late September or mid October. In the spring semesters the time varies, but tends to be between early February and early March.”  

According to the Board of Trustees’ document, the fee will also strive to reach the International Association of Counseling Services’ benchmark of one mental health professional to 1,300 students. 

An interview that had been scheduled with Kulics and the Interim Associate Provost for Academic Affairs was cancelled. 

The Kent Stater will be providing updated information on this story as more becomes available. 

Abigail Mack is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected].