Stop Stalling on Mental Health Support for College Students

Target: Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Goal: Create effective and comprehensive campus mental health plans to support college students.

Another gun violence tragedy hit a United States college this month. A former football player from the University of Virginia reportedly ambushed other players as they returned from a field trip, opened fire, and killed three classmates. This is not the first college campus shooting of this era and certainly will not be the last. The school responded by making counselors available in addition to therapy dogs. With similar efforts following these types of events at other schools, everyone is kept wondering: Does it help? Where was the work in preventing this needless loss of life?

These shootings have to stop. Instead of addressing students’ mental health after it is too late, schools need a plan to support those vulnerable enough they may succumb to urges to pick up a weapon and hurt classmates. The website Voices of America (VOA) reports that over 172 mass shooters have taken lives on university and college campuses since the first documented incident in 1966. Numbers have only increased in frequency over the decades despite mental health teams and resources on campuses appearing to be growing. Perhaps a new approach is needed.

VOA has collected a significant amount of data to determine there is a discernable pattern in many of these mass shootings. They hope this information, along with that compiled by other organizations, can be used to target mental health support to individuals needing it the most. Now it feels as if service providers wait for those suffering to come to them, but it is clear a more strategic plan is necessary.

Sign the petition below to urge Director Walensky of the CDC to stop stalling and create a plan for more effective mental health support for college students.


Dear Director Walensky,

There is no doubt the United States has a major issue with mass shootings. Unfortunately, a large number of these events have happened on college and university campuses and taken the lives of hundreds of young adults. Schools are pouring resources into ensuring their students are not the next culprits or victims, yet there does not seem to be any solution in sight. It is time the CDC steps up and treats mental illness as a priority disease.

Our current approach to mental illness and consequential violence prevention is not working. Helping people who are struggling with life has become a big part of the national conversation. Schools and businesses are building up their options for served individuals, yet it feels as if the problem is getting worse before it gets better. What is the CDC doing to address this mounting tension between those suffering and those waiting to have a violent outburst?

Many organizations have done fantastic work compiling similarities in violent offenders in mass college and university shootings; mental illness is a commonality between most of them. These profiles should be used to address suffering individuals before they turn to violence. As of now, mental health professionals usually wait for those hurting to come to them. The CDC needs to respond with a plan to roll out to schools and help them more proactively work through the student body.

We urge you to stop waiting for a miracle and use data and science from mass shootings to improve mental health support for college and university students.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Rigos101

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