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Group of Penn Students Rally For Mental Health Reform in Wake of 3 Student Suicides

(photo by Tim Jimenez/KYW)

(photo by Tim Jimenez/KYW)

Tim Jimenez Tim Jimenez
Tim Jimenez is a general assignment reporter at KYW Newsradio...
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By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of Penn students rallied on campus Monday afternoon. They’re pushing for University officials to act faster on mental health issues, in the wake of a string three student suicides since the end of last semester.

Two dozen students and faculty gathered for what they call “The Green Ribbon Movement.”

“The green ribbon is representative of mental health and wellness,” one of the organizers, sophomore Derek Sexton said.

In February Penn established the Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare to study student mental health and ways to improve services. But these students say they’re not represented and the study is taking too long – findings due next year. In the meantime, Sexton says their group already has ideas.

“Where is your platform. Look at our platform. We’ve consulted with students. Consider this immediately and let’s work on implementing this,” Sexton said.

Professor Dr. Toorjo Ghose says the school’s counseling service known as CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) is underfunded and wait times for students can be long, even stretching for months, all while the human element can succumb to the high pressures of the Ivy league.

“The suicides are just a real visible reminder that mental health on campus has really been undermined by several aspects,” Dr. Ghose said.

A University spokesman says the task force will actively seek student input.

“Student input will be actively sought by the Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare. Because the Task Force members will sometimes be privy to private records, membership on the Task Force was formulated with that in mind,” University spokesman Ron Ozio said.

Ozio confirms three student suicides since the end of last semester — two undergraduate students and a graduate student who was at home, out of state.

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