Opinion: ASU should require all incoming students to take a mental wellness class

The University should implement a mental health course to help new students transition into ASU

Similar to most high school seniors, I could not wait to go to college. I ignored the advice my parents and family members gave me regarding the "difficult" transition. They mentioned I might feel overwhelmed, but I didn't believe it — they were so right. 

While classes like psychology and anatomy exist to teach about physical and mental health, no mandatory class actually gives advice on how to improve these things. 

Impatience and discomfort were the two driving forces behind my desire to leave ASU after a month into college, and that goes for many other students.

Considering this, the University should implement a required mental health course for all incoming students taught by certified ASU students. A course solely focused on assisting students on how to cope with a new environment, navigate an unfamiliar social landscape and stay motivated in the midst of competitive and ever-changing career fields is necessary to promote success. 

Aaron Krasnow, the associate vice president for ASU's counseling services, said "the transition to college is one of the most critical aspects of the college experience.” 

Freshman retention rates speak volumes for a school, and a low freshman retention rate should be a red flag for incoming students. However, ASU has a high retention rate compared to the national average, according to data from 2016.

Every year there may be students who are struggling with the sheer unfamiliarity of college, complicating their mental health. This required class can serve as a resource for students to learn how to improve their overall  wellbeing while navigating their new homes. 

Currently, ASU is keeping on top of this through a required course known as ASU 101. 

According to the ASU 101 syllabus, "ASU 101 is a required, one-credit course offered in sections capped at 19 and designed to introduce all new first-time ASU students to the unique elements, culture, challenges and opportunities of their university."

However, ASU 101 may not best serve as an introduction to the ASU experience, and Krasnow said the University is changing that.

“One of the things that we've done in health and counseling is we resourced the colleges with different information so that when they want to build in some wellness materials, they can,” Krasnow said. “For example, the College of Liberal Arts this year, used our TAO connect platform, which is an online self-help platform that has different modules on stress and anxiety, substance use, relationship concerns, depression, where students can go through the modules at their own pace.” 

Read more: ASU partners with online therapy service TAO Connect to bring better resources to students

Implementing TAO Connect is the perfect example of how ASU is furthering its curriculum to be more helpful for those who may be struggling. 

But there is plenty more to be done.

Mental health is one of the most important aspects of one's life, and sometimes it can get put at the bottom of the list. 

A class solely focused on improving the mental health of students, paired with ASU 101, could be an extremely beneficial tool. 


Reach the columnist at weveret1@asu.edu and follow @therealwillyevs on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.