Our View: UCS efforts need to be more proactive

Despite dwindling enrollment numbers, University Counseling Services continues to experience increasing numbers. UCS has steadily responded to the influx with measures to develop greater support and efficiency. At a time of particular urgency, however, those in need are enduring excessive delays. 

We, The Index Editorial Board, believe the steps being taken by UCS are important but overdue. Though forward movement is promising, persistent lack of staffing, resources and availability abandons the very public it aims to serve. If Truman State University wants to improve upon its mental health initiatives, it must become more proactive. 

Uncertainties are of course inevitable in any realm of work. When faced with unforeseen adversity, adjustments must be made quickly and accordingly. Amid several instances of crisis over the past few years, however, Truman has consistently failed to meet demand.

September witnessed a record high of first time UCS appointments. The department is holding regular staff meetings to discuss a new direction, but progress has been slow. A psychologist position requested in 2018 was only recently posted as a job opening this fall, leading to staffing shortages and subsequent scheduling delays. Students looking for assistance remain on up to three week waiting lists.

As media practitioners, we know the value of timeliness. We also know that preparation starts with planning ahead. Stories and layouts are often developed well in advance to account for potential contingencies. With something as crucial as student wellness, it is not unreasonable to expect similar effort from our University.

The upward trend in UCS usage, though perhaps indicative of rising stress levels on campus, also signals an encouraging decline in the stigma around seeking help. Greater utilization of these services is largely a good thing. We want to see more students reach out in times of trouble, but we also hope Truman will pay more attention to the higher traffic so that adequate treatment can be offered. 

While past lapses are irrevocable, they provide insight for future decisions. With that in mind, Truman can correct missteps and improve outlooks if resources are allocated appropriately — and promptly. As students start to take greater responsibility for addressing their mental health concerns, maybe it is time for Truman to do the same.