Responding to increasing demand for mental health services, counselors are breaking out of the counseling center to meet students where they are, writes Melissa Korn in the Wall Street Journal.
College counseling centers are facing high demand for their services. In a recent survey of 33,500 students by the American College Health Association surveyed 33,500 students 38% of respondents said they had felt "so depressed that it was difficult to function." About 10.4% of students said they had thought about committing suicide.
Institutions generally want to respond to rising demand by offering more services, but they can't always afford to do so, a representative from the Jed Foundation told Inside Higher Ed in 2016.
As a solution, some institutions are embedding counselors in buildings across campus, rather than having them work exclusively in the university's counseling center.
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For example, the University of Iowa started installed a part-time counselor in its dental school in 2014, Korn writes. Starting this upcoming academic year, the dental school will now have a full-time counselor.
The University of Iowa also placed a full-time and part-time counselor in its athletic facilities, as well as two counselors in residence halls that will primarily support first-year students, who have historically reported the highest stress and depression levels among college students across the United States. Overall, the university has increased its ratio of counselors to students from one for every 2,800 students to one for every 1,500 students, Korn reports.
At Virginia Tech, there are now satellite counseling clinics across campus, including the graduate student center and even at the local Starbucks.
Counselors are also trying more flexible appointment scheduling at some institutions. For example, at Ohio University, three in-house counselors, provide counseling sessions in campus residence halls and take walk-ins between for a few hours most evenings
"There's more of a demand for service, and more of a demand for immediate service," says Josette Cline, director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Arkansas, which saw a 40% increase in counseling appointments last year. "We need some more boots on the ground," Cline says.
The University of Arkansas has had counselors in its residence halls for more than 20 years, Korn writes. Many of them are masters and doctoral students studying counseling. On top of these, the university has just hired a senior clinician as a counselor-in-residence, who will take both walk-in visits from students and scheduled sessions. This fall, the university will also embed counselors in other areas of campus as well, such as the engineering school (Korn, Wall Street Journal, 7/9).
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