Make psychiatry free at UT

Emily Harrison, Columnist

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the November 2 flipbook. 

The financial burden of healthcare is a limiting factor for many college students. When looking for care regarding mental health, this limiting factor can quickly turn into a deal breaker. 

While UT offers other free mental health resources on campus, psychiatry, in addition to counseling and support groups, is a necessity for many students. The Counseling and Mental Health Center charges $10 per appointment for psychiatry. These aren’t just one-time appointments to get a prescription medication, though, as appointments and prescription costs can add up. Students shouldn’t have to choose between money and their mental health.

While $10 is a low charge for an appointment, it’s not good enough. Students are already paying tuition to live in a high-stress environment, and we deserve the support that that requires. UT should offer free psychiatry services for students.

Music education freshman Sophie, whose last name has been withheld for privacy reasons, expressed how the maintenance of psychiatry can quickly become expensive.

“I think UT and outside services can be cost prohibitive,” Sophie said. “It’s expensive to do, and it’s expensive to maintain because you have to do it every month. I totally understand these people have a lot of training and … deserve to make a lot of money, but it’s hard, especially for students, to be able to afford that.”

For many students, psychiatry is not a privilege but rather a necessity. Mental health disorders require attention and care, like any other illness. When left untreated, conditions can worsen, meaning the accessibility of mental health medications is even more important in a high-pressure academic environment like UT.

Sophie has been fortunate to see a psychiatrist outside of UT, but she has been looking into psychiatry on campus for convenience. She believes struggling students should be able to get the same care she does.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to go to psychiatry, but a lot of people aren’t,” Sophie said. “And those people struggle with mental health issues the same way I do. It’s not not fair for me to be able to have those services and other people not to. I think as a University, it’s (their) responsibility to take care of their students.”

Monica Dowd, UHS and CMHC associate director for business services, explained what the $10 fee covers.

“The (psychiatry) services that we provide to students (is) a specialized and unique set of care and requires resources,” Dowd said. “To be able to provide those resources to that distinct population, that $10 helps … fund that for our students and provide care they desperately need.”

Students, however, should not be responsible for covering this cost on their own. We’re here for an education, and for many students, mental health issues can develop due to the stress they’re put under. To help shoulder the high academic standards we are held to, we deserve accessible psychiatric help.

CMHC employs professionals, and that obviously costs them money. The University should allocate more funding on average to the CMHC to offset this cost before it falls on students.

UT needs to make psychiatry free through the CMHC. Affordability and accessibility are two of the most important factors when it comes to healthcare. Cost shouldn’t be an issue that students have to worry about when it comes to their mental health.

Harrison is a journalism freshman from Dallas,Texas.