Cal State Fullerton ASI President Laila Dadabhoy advocates for mental health at Reclaim Mental Health conference

In Campus News, News
a woman looks focused as she listens to a presentation during the mental health conference
(Tricia Lasha / Daily Titan)

Associated Students President Laila Dadabhoy recalled the time she tried to turn in an assignment for her friend who’d been struggling with her mental health that day.

“I don’t think that’s a real reason that she shouldn’t be attending class today,” Dadabhoy remembers the professor saying.

“That’s where I think a big problem is,” Dadabhoy said during her address at the Reclaim Mental Health Conference on Saturday.

The event was hosted by the Cal State Fullerton Allied Health Student Association and focused on a lack of resources and budget for mental illness and support services for students.

Dadabhoy said students won’t be comfortable expressing their problems to professors if they’re not trained to take mental health seriously.

“If a student doesn’t feel well, then they’re not going to perform well and if they don’t perform well, then that’s going to reflect poorly on their education,” Dadabhoy said.

In her address, Dadabhoy said Counseling and Psychological Services isn’t sufficiently comprehensive and doesn’t have enough counselors for students.

“We spend time focusing on programs and things to make CSUF a more exciting place to be, and while that’s really important and I appreciate that a lot, all we need for our mental health support services is a few more people or more creative ways of addressing problems,” she said.

Dadabhoy said the potential mental health problems of college students can be attributed to tuition increases and the state of the federal government.

Dadabhoy said the main reason for limited mental health resources on campus is the lack of a budget dedicated to such resources.

Through Associated Students, Dadabhoy said she wants to create a group therapy program for students and plans to designate rooms in the Titan Student Union for those who want to take part in group therapy sessions with a licensed professional.  

During the conference, one audience member said more university administrators should have been present to support students dealing with mental health issues and learn about program developments.

Dadabhoy said she wants to address these issues while she’s still president of Associated Students.

“Tuffy’s Basic Needs (Services) was a great success for our campus and probably helped a lot of students with whatever they might be dealing with,” Dadabhoy said. “But we can’t just stop there. They need food, housing, money —  those are physical things that they might need, but it doesn’t always address what might be happening in their heads.”

Students at the conference also shared their own stories about dealing with their mental health.

Jeffrey Liu, events coordinator for the CSUF Active Minds chapter, said he struggled with mental health during his sophomore year.

“It was through the support of my campus community that I can stand here today as a student leader. Some of the things I’ve done is share some of the issues I was going through in my life and also empower other students on our campus,” Liu said.

Active Minds aims to remove stigmas surrounding mental health, and in his position, Lui said he’s had the opportunity to create social advocacy events on issues like eating disorders.

Brittnay Nguyen, the conference chair, wanted to provide information for students who may be struggling with mental health.

“I realize students here on our campus have struggled with getting access to mental health resources. With this event, we do hope to highlight important discussions about mental health and well-being, and also bridge the gap and provide a stronger community to talk about mental health,” Nguyen said.

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