HCN News & Notes

Sen. Velis Holds Mental-health Discussion with Students at Westfield State University

WESTFIELD — On April 24, state Sen. John Velis visited Westfield State University to meet with students and faculty on the topic of mental health on college campuses. Velis is the Senate chairman of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery in the state Legislature.

“From balancing classes, work, and family responsibilities to worrying about their futures post-graduation, college students have a lot on their plates, and that takes a toll on students’ mental health in a very real way,” Velis said. “As a lawmaker, and especially now as chairman, I believe it is critical that I hear these experiences firsthand as the Legislature looks toward policies to help expand access to mental-health resources and support these students. I am incredibly grateful to all the Westfield State community members, and especially the students, who took their time to meet with me and share their thoughts.”

The discussion took place in the Ely Campus Center and lasted for nearly two hours. It was attended by more than 50 campus community members, including WSU President Linda Thompson.

“I also had the opportunity to speak with faculty and students who are studying the area of behavioral health themselves, and it was fascinating to hear about what they are researching and seeing,” Velis said, noting that he hopes to hold similar conversations in other forums throughout the region. “The influence of social media on mental health, workforce shortages in the behavioral-healthcare sector, and lack of access to care — these are all issues that folks at Westfield State are studying and working on. I look forward to continuing to partner with the university and engaging with our community on these issues as the legislative session continues.”