LTTE: CSU mental health services hears student concerns

Guest Author

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the opinion piece that ran on Monday written by Lauren Willson, “Look beyond the health center for mental health resources.”

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Earlier this week, The Collegian ran an opinion piece written by a student encouraging other students to look outside of the CSU Health Network for mental health resources. We want you to know that we hear your concerns. We also want to provide more context around wait times and scheduling.

The CSU Health Network Counseling Services is committed to providing quality services that are accessible to all CSU students. The demand for mental health services nationwide, including counseling services on campus, has increased every year. Many universities have made the decision to refer students with the most long-term concerns to community providers. 

Philosophically, we have decided that it is better to provide as much service as possible to all of our students.  Although we are fortunate to have a large staff of counselors and more mental health resources than most other colleges and universities, the number of students requesting counseling has increased each year.  As a result, we are typically unable to offer weekly individual appointments except in emergency situations.  

Most students see their counselor every two to three weeks, and many join one of our weekly counseling groups or utilize immediately available on-call services for urgent situations. For students who want to be seen more frequently, our staff is happy to help them connect with someone in the community. 

Regarding online scheduling, we want you to know that we carefully considered this option but decided against it for several reasons. 

Since there is a large demand for counseling, an initial appointment with an ongoing counselor may be two to three weeks in the future at some points during the semester. By asking students to come in to see us or call us for a brief screening appointment (before their initial appointment with a counselor), we are able to problem-solve interim solutions or make a more immediate plan for those in crisis.

We also do our best to make room for new students, so it is necessary to space out the appointments of our ongoing clients. Additionally, because our staff has different areas of expertise, it is helpful to make the first appointment with a specific counselor for the type of service that will best meet the student’s needs.

We are always looking for innovative ways to use our resources to meet the evolving needs of our students. Over the last few years, we have taken action to improve student access to resources, including increasing the availability of staff for immediate drop-in services, expanding our after-hours availability, offering a wider variety of groups and workshops to meet the diverse needs of our students, expanding our outreach efforts in partnership with Health Education and Prevention Services (HEPS) and Student Diversity Programs and Services (SDPS), and offering more appointments at the end of the semester designed to help students manage added distress and demands. 

In addition, YOU@CSU, an online student success portal that connects to online and on-campus support resources, is now available to all students with easy 24/7, confidential access through RamWeb. 

The pressures of life and school can be difficult to balance, and we want to be part of helping you find that balance. We are committed to continuing our work to be as responsive as possible to student needs.   

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Susan MacQuiddy, Ph.D.

Director of Counseling Services

CSU Health Network