Dear Editorial Board:
Thank you for highlighting the issues college counseling centers face in attempting to manage the mental health needs of our students. And thank you for your endorsement of all that we do, we appreciate the shout-out!
Yes, this is a difficult time and the Drexel University Counseling Center struggles with challenging circumstances. We are a relatively small center given our population, but as my colleagues, those responsible for college counseling, note: “we cannot staff our way out of this…”
There are several strategies we have employed to allow us to better manage our students’ needs. We have adjusted the way we provide care by employing a type of stepped care model. When a student comes in they are seen by a therapist who will work with the student to understand their issues and determine best course of treatment. At that point, a student may be referred to one of the many groups we offer which, as students report, can be extremely helpful in identifying and working through issues; or they may be seen by a therapist for individual counseling. Since we do follow a short-term model, if extended care with psychiatric support is requested or indicated, students will be referred to our case manager who can assist them in finding an appropriate provider.
There are exceptions where we will provide continued care. In the least we provide bridge services until the student is successfully transitioned to an external provider. We do not necessarily refer students for continued care once treatment with us is concluded since that may not be warranted or desired. We let students decide for themselves knowing that they are always welcomed to return to us if circumstances change.
Our job, as most counseling centers are beginning to recognize, is not only to provide direct care but to do all that we can to elevate mental health on campus. That means working with our colleagues across campus to promote and support wellness, to teach skills that will benefit students as they move through Drexel and embark on a career, and to educate faculty and staff in ways to assist students, so as to better manage some of the challenges they face as they progress through their years at Drexel.
Creating a culture that supports wellbeing and positive mental health is a campus undertaking. We have the support of our administration and many colleagues across campus. It’s very encouraging to have our upper administration, academic colleagues and all of the Office of Student Life work with us to address our students’ needs.
We will continue to do all we can and deliver the highest quality of care as dictated by our APA Accreditation standards. But ultimately, a health-focused campus culture is the only way we can hope to be successful in managing the crisis of care.