University System of Georgia launches task-force to address mental health challenges


AUGUSTA, Ga. —- The USG chancellor, Steve Wrigley, appointed a mental health task force to take a more in-depth look into mental health challenges and struggles on college campuses statewide.

The task force is about 12 members from several colleges in Georgia. NewsChannel 6 reporter, Devin Johnson, spoke with the representative for Augusta University, on what the group will be doing to understand the scope of the mental health issues on Georgia campuses.

The pressures to succeed in college can be stressful for some students. And that stress could translate to mental health challenges.

“If we can improve mental health, we help the colleges bottom line,” explained Dr. Robert Dollinger. “Not only improve retention and graduation rates, which college administrators like to see. But we are graduating students who are healthier, happier, and luckily to contribute to society.”

Dr. Dollinger told Devin, two percent of college students had committed suicide. Thirteen percent have seriously considered it. He says the goal of the force is to help provide more resources to struggling students.

“You have to have many different multi-disciplinary programs to make a significant dent in solving the mental health crisis,” said Dollinger.

One student at Augusta University says you need to have designated people in your corner to guide you through tough times.

“You’ll never be excluded even though it feels like everything is going on around you; you’ll never feel excluded from everyone else,” said Melvin Hilson.

He says without that extra help, college can take a toll on a person.

“Balancing college may not seem like a lot,” explained Hilson. “Once you’re here and going through it, it’s a lot with work. You’re trying to balance you’re a social life and trying to stay healthy.”

Those words are what the representative of Augusta University will be echoing to lawmakers.

“Our young people are stressing out, sad, and depressed; we need to find ways to help,” said Hilson.

Chancellor Wrigley said in a recent news release, mental health is now a higher priority on campuses than it was three years ago.

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