SUNY passes telecounseling initiative; Student Assembly responds

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The Trustees of the State University of New York yesterday approved a resolution directing the University administration to consider the use of telecounseling and online mental health services for students across the state.

The SUNY Student Telecounseling Network (SUNY STCN) is a $1.5 million initiative that would create a partnership between SUNY’s four academic medical centers (Upstate, Downstate, Buffalo, and Stony Brook) allowing all SUNY students across the state to benefit from shared mental health counseling services.

“This network leverages existing SUNY resources to provide high-quality mental health service at a fraction of the cost,” said Rey Muniz III, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Student Assembly. “Given the resounding plea from campuses for more mental health resources, this pilot program provides the most efficient, cost-effective, and immediate answer to what students and administrators alike recognize as a burgeoning crisis.”

Under the current proposal, five campuses would be chosen to participate in a pilot program which would be scaled-up across the system after analysis and review.

“The inclusion of the STCN in the Senate’s proposal is a huge win for students across the system. We have heard a loud and clear call for improvements in mental health counseling to alleviate the increased demand for student services,” added Emily Altschuler, the Student Assembly’s Campus Safety Chair. “This will help cut down wait lists and ensures that students are able to access the resources they need to best succeed.”

Student Assembly President Marc Cohen was pleased to see the program included in the Senate proposal. “This program is essential to ensuring that all students have equal access to the services they need to thrive on our campuses,” said Cohen. “I urge the Assembly to take up the proposal in the ongoing negotiations to ensure that a coherent and comprehensive plan is enacted in this year’s budget.”

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