University of Houston announces new mental health initiatives after two student suicides at Agnes Arnold Hall this year

Students received a letter from UH Chancellor Renu Khator Wednesday with details on what the university plans to do about Agnes Arnold Hall and mental health resources on campus.


Agnes Arnold Hall is closed as officials try to figure out what to do after multiple students died in the building.

University of Houston Chancellor Renu Khator sent a letter to students Wednesday night with various proposed changes to the university's mental health resources after two student suicides this year.

"While we can do certain things in the short term, the long-term solutions lie in building a culture of resiliency and care, and you are an important part of this effort," Khator said in the letter to students. "We need your voice, your ideas and your participation.

There will be two new task forces at UH: one will determine both the short-term and long-term future of Agnes Arnold Hall, while the other will focus on strengthening mental health resources on campus.

Earlier this month, the university closed Agnes Arnold Hall and scheduled classes remotely to limit access to the building after an apparent suicide.

Students held a protest and vigil last week in honor of the students who died, as well as a student who took his life in the same building in 2017.

In the letter to students, Khator encouraged them to voice their opinions and said they'll have a say on the future of the building and changes in mental health resources at UH.

"Students have a seat at the table," Khator wrote. She also shared an email for students to contact to share their own thoughts and input.

Lauren Morton, who was one of the protest organizers and has attended UH for four years, said she was pleasantly surprised by the letter she received.

"She said that she was going to open up her roundtable talks to have one every week in the month of April," Morton said. "That is the most communication and the most accessible that President Khator has been in my entire time at the University of Houston."

Another student who was present at the protests, Sameer Abdulnajeed, said he felt their efforts applied pressure on the university to be more transparent about their plans.

"I think it's going to be really important going forward for students to continue to hold the admin accountable," Abdulnajeed said.

The university plans to strengthen its Counseling and Psychological Services programs. Service fees to reduce no-shows have been waived to remove barriers to receiving care.

Both Morton and Abdulnajeed said that while this is a good start, they hope the university will continue to communicate with students about improvements to mental health services on campus.

"I hope that they don't bring back student fees for CAPS sessions," Morton said. "Because they just said they were suspending it. They didn't say that they were completely eliminating them."

Disclosure: Houston Public Media is licensed by the University of Houston. The university does not play a role in Houston Public Media’s editorial decisions. Read our statement of ethics and standards here.

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