Nikhil Rao and Raleigh Cury, co-facilitators of the UNC Mental Health Coalition, wrote a letter to University leadership with six demands for prioritizing student mental health on Oct. 9 — the University's recommended mental health day.
Cury helped found the Mental Health Coalition two years ago to bring together groups advocating for student mental health. Now, she and Rao aim to increase the coalition's presence on campus.
The University asked faculty to pause instruction on Oct. 9 in observance of World Mental Health Day. But Cury said that, though the pause in classes was a nice sentiment, it was not good policy.
“It's not an optional Mental Health Day, not everyone got it,” Cury said. “I definitely didn't get it.”
The letter addresses concerns for the mental health of students throughout the entire fall semester with few breaks — while advocating for changes the University can implement in the spring and beyond.
“We assert that University prioritization of mental health doesn’t just look like an optional and poorly advertised 'pause' on classes,” Cury and Rao said in the letter. “Mental health looks like assuaging uncertainty and preserving safety through comprehensive planning, transparency, and systemic change.”
At the end of the letter, they included a list of six demands to University leadership. The list includes:
- publishing the “off-ramp” criteria moving forward
- publicizing which groups are making decisions about campus reopening and what those decisions are
- understanding when mandates come from the Board of Governors
- making materials about UNC System functioning accessible
- increasing funding for Counseling and Psychological Services and other departments that handle mental health
- asking for an explanation as to why the Election Day off request was denied