The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The fight for better mental health care on campus

Students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2019.
Students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2019. (Ben Margot/AP)
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Regarding the Oct. 15 front-page article “Students’ mental health adds to load at college”:

As a parent, I can’t imagine the pain of losing your child like the parents of these students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And it is horrible to imagine that students felt as if they had nowhere to turn. This is a sad confirmation of one of the main reasons I came to Congress: to fight for better mental health care. Mental health issues for college students have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Reports of the illnesses of anxiety, depression and substance use disorder by young adults are increasing rapidly. We need to completely rethink how we approach mental health care, because what we’re doing now is not enough. I introduced the Higher Education Mental Health Act this month to address declining mental health among college students head-on. The bill would put a national commission in place to examine student mental health services and develop a report on the best way to address declining mental health. If signed into law, this bill could mean a complete redesign of how we view mental health for young adults. Most important, it will help us figure out how we can help students before it’s too late. That alone should be enough to urge my colleagues in Congress to push this over the finish line. I’m not giving up on this fight, because I know what’s at stake.

David Trone, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s 6th District in the House.