Western Association for College Admission Counseling Names Dr. Richard Pan Legislator of the Year

February 11, 2019

SACRAMENTO – The Western Association for College Admission Counseling, the largest college admissions professional organization in the state of California, announced today that they have named Dr. Richard Pan, State Senator, as their 2019 Legislator of the Year.

“Working with college students on a daily basis, we have witnessed the increase in mental health issues among the students we serve and we applaud Dr. Pan for his legislative efforts to provide more mental health counseling in California public colleges,” said Maureen Chang, of the Western Association for College Admission Counseling.

“When students have access to mental health counseling, they are less likely to drop-out and have better academic performance,” said Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento region. “I am honored to be chosen by the Western Association for College Admission and Counseling as Legislator of the Year and will continue to work to get students the help they need to be successful.”

In 2018, Dr. Pan authored Senate Bill 968, legislation that addressed the mental health access crisis in public higher education by requiring one licensed mental health counselor per 1000 students as recommended by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS), the accreditation body for college counseling centers. The bill also required each campus to, at least every three years, conduct a campus survey and focus groups, including focus groups with students of color, to understand student needs and challenges regarding their mental health and emotional well-being and to collect data on attempted suicides through self-reporting, mental health counselor records, and known hospitalizations.

Students face anxiety, depression, and stress as they confront challenges of campus life. Suicide is a leading cause of death among college students, claiming more than 1,100 lives every year nationally.  One in four students has a diagnosable mental illness and 40 percent of students do not receive mental health services when they need it.