Yesterday, I had an appointment with my therapist who informed me that my university has cut back the budget for student mental health treatment which has resulted in cuts in the number of mental health therapy visits students are covered for. Previously, my school would approve students for 5 sessions at a time, but there was no limit to the amount of sessions someone could get as long as the therapist that they are seeing provided justification for why additional sessions are necessary. In my case, the additional sessions were warranted because of the ongoing long-term nature of recovery from both bulimia and PTSD.
Recovery doesn’t happen over night. It is a long process that can take years and even then sometimes an individual is unable to recover totally. Unfortunately for me, my recovery process might be cut short. My school has created a new policy which dictates that each student is allowed only 5 sessions per academic year.
To put that into perspective, I have 4-5 sessions per MONTH. My recovery plan requires me to have weekly sessions with my therapist. Up until now I have only been able to have access to this care because my insurance through my school covers it. Now that my school has cut the amount of money going towards mental health for students, I will not be able to continue with my treatment as of mid-October and even that is because I have started to space out my appointments to bi-weekly in order to extend the amount of time I will have.
This is just another example of the lack of attention that is given to mental health. I am paying the same amount of money this year for my school insurance plan but I will be covered for far less. I will be unable to continue with the treatment that I NEED simply because my school does not recognize that it is important. The justification that was given to me in explanation of the cutback in sessions is that the treatment is intended to be for short-term problems.
In my opinion, this is a load of bullshit. If a school is advertising to students that they offer psychological services, there should not be a hidden clause that says that you can only use the services for easily treated problems. That is basically like saying that if you require more than 5 visits then you are a lost cause and therefore do not warrant the extra expense. Its like saying that someone who has a broken arm should be treated because there is a definite end to treatment whereas someone with cancer should go elsewhere for help. But that would never happen because physical illnesses are treated no matter their severity!
I don’t understand how they can justify withholding treatment of more serious conditions that require more than 5 sessions of therapy. If an individual is actively seeking out help and has been clinically diagnosed with a mental illness, they should have access to treatment.
Needless to say I am extremely disappointed in the mental health efforts of my school. Until today I was under the impression that my school was extremely dedicated to providing mental health support to their students. In my opinion it is extremely dangerous for cuts to be made to the accessibility of these services to students. This could lead to increased risks such as suicide. To take away or limit such an important service is unreasonable and appalling.
I am extremely unhappy with the actions of my university and I have every intention of expressing my concerns. Just when I started to think that mental health was starting to get the attention that it deserves, I find one more reason to believe that there is still plenty of work to be done to end the stigma and make psychological services more accessible.