Kadison, a former chief of mental health services at Harvard, said studies show that greater investment in mental health services leads to higher retention and graduation rates.

Much of it still seems like lip service to Maryland junior Madison Higgins, who leads a student-run hot line for students in crisis.

Higgins, who has suffered from an anxiety disorder since she was a child, said the HELP Center has been rejected in the past for funding from the Office of Student Affairs.

The group applied recently for emergency funding from the Student Government Association to pay its phone bills — about $2,400 a year — after its initial budget was slashed. A request for advertising dollars was denied entirely.

After the shootings last month, Maryland's Student Government Association gave the HELP Center $1,500 so the center could increase its advertising.

Center members said they appreciated the money, but added that its timing was typical of how mental health issues are addressed on campus.

"We are putting so much effort into this, and we are asking for phone bill money, and it's so hard to get it," Roper said. "Until someone dies."

krector@baltsun.com

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By the numbers

The number of students requesting psychological, emotional and personal counseling at a sampling of university and college counseling centers in Maryland:

University of Maryland, College Park (Total enrollment: 37,631)

2007-2008: 1,466

2008-2009: 1,627

2009-2010: 1,609

2010-2011: 1,777

2011-2012: 1,986

Loyola University Maryland (Total enrollment: 5,978)

2007-2008: 249

2008-2009: 326