Students plan to advocate for PSEO mental health resources

The Minnesota Student Association and People for PSEO seek to expand mental health support options for high-school aged students attending the University.

Photo+Courtesy+of+Zeke+Jackson

Photo Courtesy of Zeke Jackson

Ava Thompson, Campus Activities Reporter

In collaboration with People for PSEO, the Minnesota Student Association plans to increase PSEO student access to campus mental health resources in an upcoming initiative.

PSEO, or Postsecondary Enrollment Options, allows high school-aged students to take university-level courses to fulfill both high school and college credit requirements. PSEO students can take up to 12-13 credits at the University of Minnesota each semester.

Because they do not pay Student Services Fees, PSEO students have to pay additional expenses to access services at Boynton Health, said Zeke Jackson, the director of People for PSEO and a second-year University student. As a result, Jackson said PSEO students do not have equal access to mental health resources compared to undergraduate students.

To support their mental health, PSEO students have access to resources like Student Counseling Services, the Center for Spirituality & Healing’s “Wellbeing U” digital learning series, the Pet Away Worry & Stress program and a course titled Success Over Stress.

Some students said the University can do more to provide PSEO students with adequate mental health resources.

“If you don’t have a community as a PSEO student, and you don’t feel like you’re fully engaged at high school or college, PSEO can be really lonely,” Jackson said. “I would say that PSEO is so important to students for so many different reasons. Colleges should be providing services, diverse services, to students that reflect those differing reasons that students enroll in the PSEO program in the first place.”

Sophia Pung, a junior in high school and a first-year PSEO student at the University, said she has only received three emails from the University regarding mental health so far this semester. She also said she has not felt like a part of the University community, largely due to COVID-19.

“It’s definitely been harder because I haven’t felt like I am a PSEO student because I’ve not been going to the U at all. It is different, and I think it’s harder to learn for everyone and just in general,” Pung said.

Even though the initiative to provide more mental health resources to students is in the early planning stages, MSA’s PSEO representative, Safiya Anwar, said the initiative is personal to her.

“While a few [resources] on campus are available to PSEO students, there is more that can be done,” Anwar said in an email. “PSEO students may not voice their need for support due to the complicated process that arises. Concerns about privacy have also been brought up in the conversation surrounding mental health and PSEO students, as many are minors. In short, the discussion of PSEO students and mental health is complicated but ever-important.”