CMC Launches Mental Health Initiative, Encourages Student Participation

In a school that has been ranked the “happiest college in America,” it is often easy to disregard the mental health struggles that many Claremont McKenna College students face. 

To counteract such struggles, Benjamin Kahn CM ’16 and William Su CM ’16, working with the Monsour Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, are pioneering CMC’s Mental Health Task Force. The initiative, launching this semester, will join other efforts of CMC students, the administration and the consortium to tackle issues regarding mental health. 

Su wrote in an email to TSL that the task force was created to address “a need to make existing resources more visible and available as well as organizing public awareness campaigns to combat the negative stigma associated with mental health issues.”

Khan echoed Su’s belief that students need more education about the resources available to them.

“I wanted to create this task force because I felt that the current resources available to students were not known well enough to be fully effective,” Khan wrote in an email to TSL. “I also found that many students did not have a decent education about mental heath disorders and issues.”

Dr. Elisa Hernandez, a senior staff psychologist at Monsieur, spoke Oct. 13 at an ASCMC Senate meeting about mental health resources and services on campus.

“We believe that part of our role as the counseling center is to provide psychoeducation and reliable mental health information, so we would be happy to collaborate with ASCMC in the future,” she wrote.

Currently, Monsour serves roughly 1,500 students every year through individual therapy, crisis services, psychiatry and group therapy. However, as Su pointed out, many students on campus believe that Monsour is lacking in some respects. 

“Demand for such services is high and the consortium should revisit whether or not enough resources are allocated to Monsour to ensure the wellbeing of our students,” he wrote.

Hernandez offered her opinion that the center attempts to do its best when serving the consortium but did note that Monsour struggles “with the same systemic factors that affect most university counseling centers: lack of staff and funding.”

“Every year we think about how best to use our limited resources to serve the student population,” Hernandez wrote. 

Last week, Monsour co-sponsored a mental health screening for National Depression Month in front of Honnold/Mudd Library, she said, and plans to host more screening events. Another new initiative, the Eating Disorder Task Force (EDTF), has trained CMC administrative staff and CMS coaches about eating disorders and is helping host speakers on campus.

Khan expressed hope that CMC students, administrators and health professionals can continue work to make CMC a happier and healthier campus. She said that she has been planning awareness campaigns, workshops and speakers.

“All of these will no doubt evolve as the Task Force is formed and begins its works, but I’m really looking to make this a public, out-of-the-shadows discussion,” she wrote. 

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