Cutting Mental Health Service on Campuses

Karen Gross
6 min readOct 19, 2019

A recent article in Inside Higher Education addressed this reality: the largest community college in the Pennsylvania State system is cutting mental health services. In this particular community college on a go forward basis, these services are being handled by the community to which students are directed (how they are directed remains a mystery to me). And, when you look at the reasons: budget, budget, budget. I’d add lack of utilization and lack of an outcry. And, a lack of understanding of who are students are and our responsibility to them.

Here’s what is shocking to me: the IHE article not only generated a lack of outrage in the comments section but strong support for the cuts at this community college (and I assume others). To summarize many of the comments (plentiful), here we go: Why is it the job of a community college to provide mental health facilities? Students should not be in school if they need such help or they should go outside the college to get help. And, the role of an educational institution? To provide classrooms and content only. Full stop. Oh, apparently, others have outsourced mental health personnel.

Seriously, that was the sum of the comments and I assume many, if not most, were from educators. And, my comments (and I assume those of others) against the cuts were decried as “liberal” and the argument that actually mental health services saved money and enabled student success were deemed false and not supported by empiricism and consisted mainly of the hogwash of the liberal mind. I have been a long time supporter of teaching the students we have, not the ones we dream up in our imaginations. And, many are lastic and succeed, despite us. (See Breakaway Learners)

I am not making this whole debate up.

Since when is mental health and the need for it only within the province of liberals? I did not see mental health as a political issue unless people equate mental health needs with only the poor and to those attending non-elite institutions. And, the idea that mental health saves money is NOT a…

Karen Gross

Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor