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Student Counseling Service expands staff

Due to the high demand of students wanting to use their services, the Miami University Student Counseling Service has hired two new staff members, a receptionist and psychiatric nurse, and is in the process of acquiring two more counselors.

Last school year, 11.44 percent of Miami students utilized the counseling services, which was a slight increase from 11.13 percent during the 2015-2016 school year. This is almost double the amount of students who attended the counseling center a decade ago, when just 7 percent used the services.

"The primary reason for expanding the staff is that we have had over the last several years waiting times that were uncomfortably long for students who were wanting ongoing individual counseling," Kip Alishio, director of the student counseling service, said.

Nick Froehlich, junior and ASG off-campus senator, began advocating for improvements to the Student Counseling Service when he learned of a friend who called for an appointment in November and was told the center had no time to meet with him until March.

"They don't have enough resources," Froehlich said. "They are maxed out. They run at maximum efficiency where they have low salary interns and half time doctoral assistants. They do group therapy. They stretch their dollar very, very thin."

While over 11 percent of the student body uses the counseling services, studies show that around 25 percent of students need their services. As it is, the center is not able to accommodate these needs and would have to double their current staff size in order to serve all of the students who need counseling.

"[It's a] reduction in stigma that students, their families and society at large hold about mental health problems, and so there's more openness to seeking out mental health help without fear that they're going to be judged," Alishio said.

He added that there seems to be an increase in mental health problems with students in recent years, especially with anxiety disorders.

In an attempt to further rectify this problem, the center hired the additional receptionist because they were not able to answer the phones for all of the students that called the service.

The center also has a psychiatrist on staff. They have recently hired a psychiatric nurse practitioner to assist the psychiatrist and further lower wait times for students who need to be prescribed medications.

Through awareness programs and adding new staff members to meet the increasing demand, the Student Counseling Center is attempting to combat mental health problems in any way it can.

"College kids need a lot of mental health support," Theo Mesnick, first year, said. "It's a really stressful time, and I think it's really important that anyone regardless of age gets help when they need it."

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