SUNY Chancellor King announces mental health grant

OSWEGO, N.Y. – SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. announced during his campus visit that $260,000 in mental health funding will go to SUNY Oswego.

However, concerns are growing as many across the SUNY system worry about the mental health implications of a potential tuition hike.

“We allocated $10 million in recurring annual state funding to health campuses like SUNY Oswego and grassroots mental health centers,” King said.

The funding will support more than 200,000 students, and build on its Statewide Tele-Psychiatry Network (STPN) and add new tele-counseling options for community colleges.

SUNY Oswego announced that they intend to use the funds to hire more staff, expand telecounseling services, and to extend counselor contracts. 

“There’s a stigma often associated with even acknowledging that one is going through a challenge because one is male or because one comes from a different culture,” said SUNY Oswego President Peter O. Nwosu.

Nwosu said that diversity will play a key role while hiring new mental health counselors to better support students of color on campus. He said that the counseling center will be hiring an assistant director for equity and social justice among other additional staff.

The chancellor highlighted how mental health difficulties often coincide with various other challenges that students face.

“When students’ basic needs aren’t met, that is also a mental health challenge for our students,” he said.

Anayah Duke-Sneed, a SUNY Oswego senior, said that financial well-being is a crucial factor in promoting mental health among college students.

“I’m a first generation low income student and just even coming to college there was like that financial barrier,” she said. “I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to come just because of the cost.”

However, there is increasing concern about potential tuition increases across SUNY schools as declining enrollments have contributed to significant budget deficits. 

According to the latest report, SUNY could face a $1 billion budget deficit over the next decade if it fails to secure additional revenue streams. King said that he’s hopeful about securing additional state funding.

“Last year we had the largest operating aid increase SUNY has gotten in over 20 years, $163 million thanks to Gov. Kathy Hochul and our champions in the legislature,” King said. “We’re very optimistic that there will be additional resources this year.”

Total enrollment of first year students across SUNY increased from fall 2022 to fall 2023 by around 4 percent.