SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr.'s visit to the SUNY Oswego campus on Wednesday, Feb. 14, included the announcement of nearly $10 million in annual state funding to increase mental health services and support across the SUNY system, including SUNY Oswego, via New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

The funding increases support for students, faculty and staff at 28 campuses. The boost will support more than 200,000 students, and build on its Statewide Tele-Psychiatry Network (STPN) and new tele-counseling option for community colleges.

“We are making critical investments to ensure every New Yorker has access to high-quality mental health services,” Governor Hochul said in a Feb. 14 release. “College can be a stressful and overwhelming time, and this funding will expand mental health services on college campuses so students can focus on just being students.”

"When I took the 64-campus tour, one of the threads that ran through seemingly every stop was the deep need for mental health services for today's students," Chancellor King said. "SUNY Oswego's Counseling Services office is a vital and crucial resource for such students, and I'm incredibly gratified to know it's here. As more SUNY students seek mental health care, we need to be there for them with expanded services, including having enough counselors on campuses or online to meet the need around the clock."  

 “We applaud Chancellor King and the SUNY system for their ongoing attention to mental wellness and support for such important services," said SUNY Oswego President Peter O. Nwosu. "The breadth and depth of our commitment to student wellbeing is a big part of our campus culture, and these funds will allow us to build upon our efforts in a healthy and substantial way.” 

This funding was secured through the Governor’s and the New York State Legislature’s historic $163 million recurring increase in direct operating aid to SUNY’s State-operated campuses this year.

Additional resources for campus

During Chancellor King's visit to Oswego, he spoke with students about mental health and met with counselors and staff at the recently renovated Mary Walker Health Center. The center, named after Oswego native Mary Walker, the only female Medal of Honor recipient, houses the campus Counseling Services.  

To build on the campus’ model counseling operation that has long been at the vanguard of initiatives for SUNY and higher education in general, SUNY Oswego is investing its additional state funding of more than $260,000 in:  

  • Hiring more staff to support students, such as staff that specialize in providing care to students from marginalized backgrounds. 
  • Entering tele-counseling contracts to provide more access to therapy and practitioners from diverse backgrounds, as well as online students and those taking classes via the university's Syracuse Campus. 
  • Extending counselor contracts so they can provide services over the summer months. 
  • Being able to provide an increase in pay to per diem staff who offer much-needed services.
SUNY Oswego Counseling Services is a model operation that has long been at the vanguard of initiatives for SUNY and higher education in general. The department prides itself on the key services and leadership that it provides to SUNY Oswego, working collaboratively with campus partners to improve mental health and well-being of the Laker community. Counseling Services provides key services in four main areas: clinical services, outreach, training, and consultation.

Counseling Services is led by Director Lynn Braun, who also is president-elect of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.

Health and well-being are embedded in the university's fabric both in academics and in campus community support:
  • SUNY Oswego’s graduate Counseling and Psychological Services Department is instrumental in providing school psychologists and counselors through New York state and beyond, given its unique offerings, alumni network and partnerships, including the CRISP initiative to bring underrepresented populations into the field.
  • The university’s health and well-being portal reflects the holistic view of wellness through physical, social and emotional SUNY Oswego envisions and promotes to every member of the campus population.
  • Laker Thrive Series for Employees provides opportunities for faculty and staff among the wellness dimensions, realizing that employee well-being is important in providing the best student services and experiences.

Chancellor King noted that increases in anxiety, depression, grief, stress and other challenges are impacting students at an all-time-high rate, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

"According to the latest annual Healthy Minds survey, approximately 40 percent of college students suffer from moderate or major depression and more than one in three college students are dealing with anxiety," Chancellor King said.

“Mental health is health, and as more students seek mental health care, we need to be there for them with expanded services, including having enough counselors on campus or online 24-7," Chancellor King noted. "Mental health care is a critical support for student success, and we are grateful for the Governor’s ongoing commitment and investment across SUNY’s campuses, including $10 million in annual funding for mental health support.”