USC mental health offerings are inaccessible for some students

Lack of advertising and bureaucratic appointment process hinders students ability to access mental health resources.

Students have mixed feelings about USC mental health resources offered on campus.

It’s a new school year, and the issue of access to mental health care still exists. Students, under pressure and in need of support, seek out USC’s array of mental health services to get the help they need.

For Annie Zheng, a junior majoring in media and arts practices, it’s a “hit or miss situation.” She has had some positive therapy sessions, but she has felt that some therapists were not listening to her needs.

“It just felt like my concerns weren’t really taken into account,” Zheng said. “And I left the appointments feeling like I didn’t get the help I needed.”

USC Health offers a range of mental health resources to students, such as drop-in appointments on Zoom, single session workshops, one-on-one counseling or group counseling sessions. All are accessible through students’ MySHR Portal.

Even so, Zheng believes that, because providers don’t meet with students frequently enough, they are not able to understand individual needs of the student.

Finding what you need can be a problem as well.

“I went online to USC, just Googling USC mental health resources,” said Emma Perez, a sophomore majoring in public relations. “They have a lot of different things, which is very overwhelming at first.”

When Perez booked her initial appointment, it was canceled. “I went online to [rebook] it, and there were really no available appointments for the UPC campus, so I had to book it at the HSC for the earliest like within two weeks,” she said.

Daphne Yaman, a sophomore majoring in journalism, shared a more positive experience with mental health services at USC.

“I think USC has done a good job promoting mental health awareness to the best of their ability,” she said. “The therapist that I have now, who is through USC is the best therapist that I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m very, very appreciative of her.”

From virtual drop-ins and single session workshops to “Let’s Talk” appointments, USC provides a variety of mental health resources. The process of attaining those services, however, may not be simple enough to some students.

Sam Hill, a sophomore majoring in English, thinks that a streamlined system would benefit students. “I think just sending out a schoolwide email or even having that information just somewhere where you get to see it, where you don’t necessarily have to look to find it,” Hill said.

There are additional options for students not seeking therapy or searching for no-cost mental health services. Mindful USC, a service of the Office of the Provost, provides mindfulness-related classes, workshops, events, and drop-in sessions to students.

Co-director Allyson Pimentel says the organization is “increasing class sizes and diversifying the offerings” because of an increased demand for student mental health services.

However, Mindful USC should not be confused with on-campus mental health professionals. “It’s not a treatment. It’s not a visit with a clinician or a therapist. We’re offering our life skills and tools that help support living life in a way that’s more grounded,” Pimentel said.

Students seeking support from USC’s mental health services can find a list of resources here.

To access the 24/7 USC Student Health hotline call (213) 740-9355.