A petition is circulating to collect student support for the conversion of the student mental health fund to an endowment of $100,000 in order to ensure its continuity. The endowment would be used to ensure that students can access mental health services off-campus, regardless of their financial situation.
The student mental health fund was created in 2016 to address gaps in mental health services on-campus, specifically regarding affordable long term care. The fund has since provided stipends for 35 students, but has been depleting due to use. Currently, there are $6000 dollars in the fund to be used for undergraduate students, and $4000 for graduate students. When the current balance expires, the fund will no longer be able to distribute money.
Converting the account to an endowment would allow new funds to be generated each year, providing a long-term solution. “I think the fund has been able to support a significant number of students financially for ongoing off campus mental health care, which is great, but the issues are more complicated than what just a small amount of money can fix,” wrote Vince WinklerPrins, associate vice president for student health, in an email to the Voice.
The endowment, and the fund preceding it, aim to supplement the existing mental health services students have access to through the Counseling and Psychiatric Service at Georgetown University (CAPS). Though the sessions at CAPS are relatively inexpensive, at $10 per psychotherapy session and $15 for psychiatry session, the repeated costs can be prohibitive to many students. CAPS is also not designed to be a long term solution for students in crisis, and refers students seeking continuous or intensive care to providers in the D.C. area.
According to WinklerPrins, the average cost of an appointment with a therapist in D.C. is $200 a visit, part of which is covered by required student insurance. This leaves students with costs of about $90, which is then covered by the fund.
When the fund was initially created, the university provided $10,000, adding another pledge of the same amount in 2018.
The money to convert the fund to an endowment would not come from an increase in tuition, according to the petition. WinklerPrins wrote that there is currently no source of money to support the change.
Students who worked on the petition could not be reached for comment.
The petition has been endorsed by several organizations, including GUSA, GERMS, and Project Lighthouse, an organization providing peer support in crisis on campus.
The letter will be sent to the President’s Office and the Office of Advancement.