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Senator John Kennedy introduces bill improving mental health resources for college students

Last month, the Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Louisiana Senator John Kennedy aimed at improving the access college students have to mental health resources.
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 1:02 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Between a national pandemic and two hurricanes, the past few months have been hard on all of us, including students.

Last month, the Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Louisiana Senator John Kennedy aimed at improving the access college students have to mental health resources.

We stopped by LSUA’s campus to see how the new bill is impacting students in real-time.

LSUA Junior Kylee Reed has seen it all. During her last semester, she was on campus during both hurricanes and the pandemic.

“It’s been hard, I’m not going to lie. It’s been very stressful at times,” said Reed.

Reed and students across the country quickly learned how to adjust to online learning, while also recovering from a hurricane that affected so many of us here in Cenla.

“A lot of stuff has been torn up,” Reed said. “Then, just not being able to have a break during the semester honestly, you know, just going full force, plus, in the middle of a pandemic.”

With all the challenges students are facing today, lawmakers decided to take action. The Senate unanimously passed what’s known as Senator John Kennedy’s ‘Improving Mental Health Access for Students’ Act.’

The bill requires colleges to print the contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line, or any on-campus mental health programs on the back of student ID cards, or provide that information on the school’s website.

“I think this bill is really timely in that it’s going to help increase access to these resources for students,” said LSUA Title IX Director Daniel Manuel.

Manuel said this past semester has been challenging for everyone.

“We saw a lot of students who struggled being essentially trapped at home all the time, having to quarantine, maybe being in a different city. Even our students who are not displaced,” said Manuel.

Manuel said university staff moved immediately to put the numbers on LSUA’s website and on the back of each student’s ID card. The numbers have also been added to a more prominent position on the university’s website.

“Those resources are there for them and instead of a lot of students think that they just kind of have to struggle through it alone. That’s not the reality of it.”

Title IX Director, Daniel Manuel

Students at LSUA can also come to student services and ask for counseling completely free of charge.

“You don’t have to deal with these things alone. It’s not a bad thing to talk about what you’re struggling with. We have an entire division here at LSUA to support you as a student. It’s our job.”

Title IX Director, Daniel Manuel

With her busy day-to-day schedule, Reed said it’s easy to forget about taking care of herself.

As a student, you’re always on the go, you’re constantly going and you’re constantly pouring into school. Sometimes you forget to pour into yourself,” she said.

Reed said the new bill will be beneficial for all students, and encourages her classmates to get help if they need it.

“Mental health is a thing and people really do struggle with it. It needs to be talked about more. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way.”

Junior Student, Kylee Reed

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255 and you can get in contact with the crisis text line by texting ‘home’ to 741-741.

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