The difference between high school counselors and college counselors is the size gap.
The largest high school in Indiana is Carmel High School, which has 5,000 students and 16 counselors. But while USI has nearly double the enrollment, it only has about half the amount of counselors.
What does that say about the need for more counselors at USI if they can’t help students to become the best they can be? Not to mention the wait time for the counseling center is an average of 13 to 19 days, according to students.
What’s a student to do when the wait time is that long if they need to talk about something important? Students these days are more likely to be anxious and/or depressed than ever before. If a student has to wait that long for a counseling appointment, they won’t get the help they need and can be more likely to attempt suicide.
This semester, out of 689 students who had appointments, only 360 were actually served as of Nov. 15 according to Counseling Center data. The total amount of therapy hours completed was 1,394 with the average number of hours a week being 105.
A recent study showed that most college kids suffer from two common disorders, anxiety and depression. The American Psychological Association has said, “Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6%), followed by depression (36.4%) and relationship problems (35.8%).” Seventy-eight percent of college kids suffer from these problems and more than half of them need to seek help. They can’t get that if the wait time takes as long as it does.
This needs to be taken care of immediately as even the slightest chance that this could result in students hurting or encountering more serious issues is a problem. However, the Counseling Center is stepping up with new policies for shortening the wait times.
There is now a text messaging system to remind clients to call or stop by the office to confirm appointments. There is also a waitlist offered to clients in case other students cancel or fail to confirm appointments. Options for priority intakes for clients who have recently experienced trauma are also being offered.
The wait times may still continue to be an issue. They can be fixed with the hiring of more counselors, but it’s understandable the funding problem will take some more time to solve.
Students held a protest last month to show the administration that students know there is a problem with the Counseling Center’s lack of resources and that our campus needs change.
Maybe instead of protesting, we should be holding fundraisers to help the Counseling Center raise money. Just because we can scream and shout doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t get results.
We need to be coming up with more effective ways to get the results we need. The issue of understaffing needs to be brought to administration’s attention.
Students might have to help by taking matters into their own hands. If you can’t help with money, then continue to protest.