Phillips-Hill presses for solutions to mental health crisis on college campuses


HARRISBURG – At a state Senate Appropriations Committee public hearing on the state budget, Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) questioned leaders of Penn State University, Temple University, University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University about ways to address mental health issues on college campuses.

“We have seen that as you build out capacity on your campuses to deal with mental health issues among your students, you fill it immediately,” Phillips-Hill said at Tuesday’s hearing with the leaders of four Pennsylvania universities. “What can be done to avoid bringing this mental health crisis to a tipping point at our college campuses?”

In December, Senator Phillips-Hill toured and met with leaders at Penn State’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services in State College with Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh). Phillips-Hill and Schlossberg worked together on House Bill 1822 last session, which requires higher education institutions in Pennsylvania to implement a suicide and mental health prevention program on and off campuses for their students. Governor Wolf signed the bill into law as Act 110. Phillips-Hill became involved after learning of increases in suicides locally with college-aged students in York County. Suicide rates increased by 34.3 percent between 1999 and 2016 in Pennsylvania, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Lincoln University and Temple University expressed the ongoing need to expand wellness centers throughout their campuses, as well as focusing on teams to work on referrals with students to mental health professionals.

Phillips-Hill plans to work on ways to help students in basic and secondary education to deal with coping mechanisms, depression and other mental health challenges. “If we can address these challenges our next generation struggles with earlier, it will prevent these issues from being a crisis at college or later in life,” she added.

You can listen to Senator Phillips-Hill’s discussion with the state-related universities here.

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