Most finals involve writing essays or studying for a big exam but in the Community Psychology’s class, it hosted a walk and sit-in to bring awareness to improvements to the Counseling Center and mental health.
Psychology students partnered with the Psych Club to host a protest that began in front of the Rice Library Nov. 14. Students walked around campus and ended at the library where they had a sit-in in the Jazz Lounge.
“Improve the Counseling Center, help us show the administration that students care about the counseling center. Sit-in: tell us how you feel and ask questions in the Jazz Lounge. We are also interested in your stories, please feel free to share our experiences with the Counseling Center,” read the sign that a student was carrying.
The idea for the walk and sit-in came from students in Steltenpohl’s Community Psychology class. The students were initially assigned to write a paper for their final however some of them suggested they do an advocacy project instead.
The class decided that they wanted to promote more mental health resources on campus and chose a walk and sit-in because it was visual and they wanted to involve other students and faculty.
“I definitely believe that the counseling center deserves all the help the students can give it,” said Claire Ellis, a senior English and psychology major. “It does so much great work especially considering the crisis for college students happening right now like the high levels of anxiety and depression.”
Ellis is one of the students who came up with the idea for the walk and sit-in. Another student who helped plan the walk was Senior Psychology major Amanda Smock.
“We knew that the time waits were really, really long for the counseling center and we really want to show the administration that the student body cares so much about this,” Smock said.
The students are wanting more funds to go toward the Counseling Center so they can hire more counselors to reduce wait times. The students are also asking for more space for group counseling and workshops.
A survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that 59% of college students suffer from depression or other mental illnesses and 30% of students reported that their mental health struggles negatively affected their school work.
“Anxiety rates among young adults have skyrocketed, so I think that it’s a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon,” Assistant Professor of Psychology Crystal Steltenpohl said. “It’s not just a problem at USI, it’s nationwide that a lot of colleges are dealing with this and a lot of students at different campuses are starting to speak out.”
Senior Psychology major Lainie Krumenacker is another student in Steltenpohl’s class and also works at Deaconess Cross Pointe. Krumenacker said she has seen several USI students at Deaconess who were on the waitlist for the Counseling Center but couldn’t get in quick enough.
“What I think they need to do is put funding back into the Counseling Center,” Krumenacker said. “That’s why we’re having this walk, to draw attention to the fact that it does need to be improved because suicide rates are high and it’s only increasing.”
Among the participants of the walk was Lakota Rope-Pohlers. The senior psychology major heard about the event from Krumenacker and chose to participate. Pohlers said she has had a positive experience with the Counseling Center however, she agrees with the need for more counselors.
“I use the Counseling Center and definitely think there’s room for improvement as far as funding and resources they have available to them,” Pohlers said. “I love the Counseling Center, if I can be honest the Counseling Center is probably the reason that I made it this far in my education. Getting support and help from the Counseling Center definitely really made this whole college experience for me so much easier.”