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Counseling Center focuses on student outreach, changes approach

After providing 6,084 students with counseling services in the 2019 fiscal year, Colorado State University’s Health Network hopes to continue expanding mental health support services on campus and increase student awareness of these services. 

Despite conflicting rumors on campus, the CSU Health Network still offers free counseling services for students.

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“The previous messaging that was put out to campus was five free (counseling) sessions,” said Lori Lynn, interim executive director for the Health Network. “It was initially geared to ensure that students didn’t feel there was a barrier to access. What we tried to change is the language around messaging.” 

Changing approach

A 2019 Collegian article detailed many of the different services offered by the Health Network. All fee-paying CSU students have unlimited access to most services, according to the Health Network’s website.

Students will continue to have access to five free individual counseling sessions per semester. If a student wishes to exceed these five sessions, they will need to pay 10 dollars for each additional session.

Access has not changed. It’s really how we guide students to getting what’s most appropriate for them.” -Lori Lynn, interim executive director, CSU Health Network

“What we realized is that (for) a good number of our students, the problems that they’re bringing in or even what they want, doesn’t match up with individual counseling,” said Reid Trotter, director of Counseling Services.

The Health Center recognizes that although students may be more comfortable with seeking mental health support, it is still difficult for students to find the service that is best for them and fits into their schedules, said Lisa Miller, director of Specialty Counseling Services.

As a part of this, the Health Center tries to “meet students where they are” through sending professors literature to include in syllabi and social media takeovers.

“We want to help those folks that are particularly experiencing something getting in the way of them being able to function as a student,” Miller said.

For this reason, the Health Network has widened its web-based services, giving students 24/7 access to support, Miller said. This includes modules available through RamWeb, such as YOU@CSU.

“Access has not changed,” Lynn said. “It’s really how we guide students to getting what’s most appropriate for them.”

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Students need to go to Counselling Services on the third floor of the Health Center when accessing care for the first time, and more information about accessing services and what students can expect can be found on the Health Network’s website. The website gives specific information on groups and workshops students can join, including “Well-Being Wednesdays” provided in partnership with The Institute for Learning and Teaching.

“Part of what we try to do is connect students not only to our resources, but to any other resources that are appropriate throughout the campus or in the community,” Lynn said.

Increasing student outreach

The Health Network partners with organizations including TILT, Notice and Respond and the Student Health Advisory Council. 

According to Notice and Respond’s website, the “Assisting Students in Distress” workshops are part of a public health approach to helping community members understand potential roles they have in maintaining mental health on campus.

CSU offers three different workshops for staff groups, faculty departments and students. Workshops are interactive, ranging from 50-90 minutes, and they not only give students and faculty information on where to go on campus for support, but they teach them how they can support their peers. Sessions can be booked by anyone through Janelle Patrias, manager of Mental Health Initiatives. 

“Notice and Respond is considered a gatekeeper training for suicide prevention,” Patrias said. “Here, we really see our staff and faculty as essential gatekeepers, as well as students. It is an effort to help people see early signs of distress and help them make a referral to get students supported.” 

Composed of Health Network staff and 10 student members as dictated by its constitution, SHAC is another resource the Health Network uses to understand students’ needs on campus. SHAC President Natasha Calvillo said SHAC’s monthly meetings typically consist of Health Network updates, volunteer opportunities and brainstorming sessions about improving student body health. 

“We determine what student needs are based on patient satisfaction surveys and what our group members say they are noticing around campus,” Calvillo wrote in an email to The Collegian. “Members are vital to this process since they are the eyes and ears of campus.” 

Students wishing to join the council must fill out an application, but the meetings are open to anyone.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect current Health Center policies and services.

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb

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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at editor@collegian.com.

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