Next school year, the University Counseling Services will add two full-time counselors for a total of seven, one of whom also will serve as a case manager.
During 2015 UCS helped a total of 581 students and 400 students last semester alone, indicating an increase in student use of UCS services, according to Student Senate’s Resolution. Brenda Higgins, health center and counseling services director, says she thinks this increase is because of the reduction of the stigma around mental illness.
“Our students are coming to us comfortable with the idea when they have a problem with seeking out services,” Higgins says. “I don’t think it’s necessarily that people have more mental health disorders. I think more people who do are now able to be successful and get to the college level.”
Higgins says in addition to getting two new counselors next year, UCS is trying to implement more group therapy sessions and has started having students fill out questionnaires to screen them for depression. She says the point of the questionnaire is to get students help with their mental health struggles early.
Higgins says while screening is good, she is concerned UCS does not have enough resources to follow through, so she hopes increasing the number of counselors will help with that.
Senior Zach Hollstrom, Health, Wellness and Safety committee chair, spearheaded the Student Senate bill. Hollstrom says Student Senate is supposed to serve as a liaison between the student body and Truman administration, and he felt an obligation to shine a light on this student health issue by researching and writing a resolution for Student Government to vote on.
“It falls under my responsibility to look out for issues of student health, and this was one that seemed like a no brainer,” Hollstrom says. “If students are seeking more services and we could use more people to meet those needs, that’s something we should advocate for.”
Hollstrom says during his research he discovered there was concern from students about the number of counselors. Hollstrom says while he’s not sure if UCS needs more than two new counselors, it certainly will make a difference.
This story originally appeared in the March 17 Index. To continue reading, follow the link to Issuu.