Is the University doing enough to help students having trouble with their mental health on campus? The short answer is no, not at all.
While there are many resources listed to benefit students who may be having trouble with their mental health, I have found that these resources at large have failed to benefit the majority of students, despite being run by excellent and professional staff members.
My main concern regards the Counseling Center in Roosevelt Hall, as it was the only mental health resource on campus that I felt comfortable going to. I think it is impossible to fully explain the issues with the Counseling Center without sharing my own experience.
Around the end of October this year, I started experiencing problems with my mental health. I found myself feeling very depressed and overwhelmed by schoolwork and relationship issues. Additionally, I felt very disconnected from many of my friends that I have around campus.
I felt like I had no one to talk to about how I was feeling and thus kept these issues to myself. I continued to have these feelings through mid-November until I was finally urged by someone to go to the Counseling Center. I didn’t like the idea of going to talk to strangers about my problems and I argued for days with my friend to not go to the Counseling Center, but I eventually caved in.
When I finally mustered up the courage to go to the Counseling Center, I went to their walk-in hours. The day I first went in, I was told it would be an hour wait to see someone. I had walked in expecting to wait 20 minutes to talk to someone. I asked if it were possible to make an appointment to see someone instead, as this would be much more convenient. I was then informed that the Counseling Center does not schedule appointments for first-time students, and I would have to wait an hour for a drop-in meeting first. I had to be to class in an hour, so I told the clerk that I would simply come back the next day prepared with time to wait.
I came back the next day, determined to wait for someone to see me. After filling out some paperwork and waiting for the full hour, I finally was able to see someone. I was then informed that this was not, in fact, a therapist. This person was basically a preliminary step to examine the extent of my problems. Based on my answers to their questions they would determine if I would get an appointment with an actual therapist or not.
I was extremely taken aback at this. I had just spent two days and an hour trying to get in to talk to someone, and all I got was a consultation. After this half-hour consultation, I was given a choice. Either I could find a local service that is off-campus to get help, or I could wait two weeks for an actual appointment with a staff member. I, of course, chose to wait two weeks for the free service that they provided instead of going off-campus and paying to see someone.
Although I ultimately was able to get the help that I needed from the Counseling Center, I think it goes without saying that the Counselling Center has some major issues. Their system for taking in new patients is a system which makes students feel helpless and abandoned. A student who is experiencing trouble with their mental health should not have to wait an hour to see someone after they ask for help, and they definitely should not have to wait two weeks for an appointment.
It should come as no surprise that according to the Counseling Center’s website, the center only has about fifteen full-time staff members. This is certainly the reason it takes so long to get an appointment. The Counseling Center cannot keep up with the demand of the roughly 14,000 students that this campus sees every day because it is not staffed and it is not prepared to help the students on campus.
Mental health is now. It doesn’t wait two weeks. The Counseling Center should be able to help the students it serves quickly and efficiently. To do this, they need more staffing and a better system for helping first-time students.