An anonymous student expressed concerns on social media a couple weeks ago regarding wait times to see a university counselor.
Eric Grospitch, vice president of student life, quickly responded to the student's tweet.
Director of Counseling Services, Crystal Leming, stated that her office is no longer wait listing students.
However, she believes her understaffed office is a cause which has led to wait listing students.
Washburn’s counseling services professional staff currently consists of Leming (Director), Emily Meyerhoffer (University Counselor) and Molly Steffes-Herman (Campus Advocate).
The office also has a part-time graduate student intern, Abbie Welsh.
The counseling services office began wait listing students last fall, in November, when demand hit its peak.
Leming stated that was the first time counseling services had a wait list – in its history.
“Student demand continues to rise. That’s not unique to WU, it’s a phenomenon being seen at colleges and universities around the country,” said Leming. “It’s definitely impacting us and our students as significantly here as it is everywhere else.”
With the rise in demand, the question has been “is there enough supply?”
“In terms of needing more counselors, the short answer is ‘yes,’” said Leming. “I would love for our staffing ratios to be higher, and there are measures for determining what a counseling center’s staffing ratio should be, which could assist in determining the staffing goal we should work toward.”
The anonymous student agreed to the idea of increasing staff.
“There are enough using them [counseling services] to mandate an increase in staffing,” said the student. “There need to be more counselors so that our students can practice good mental health in productive ways without the strain and overworking people who provide those resources.”
There are multiple factors that play into the ability to increase staff – such as funding.
“While we believe mental health services are important and aid students in maintaining and enhancing their academic performance, we try to be respectful to that larger budget picture in making our requests and working to expand our services,” said Leming.
Leming also touched on the unique value of having around the clock services available for students.
“One of the most significant ways we’ve expanded our services is with the addition of round the clock care by phone,” said Leming. “A student can call our number, 785-670-3100, and select option two to be connected to a counselor for an immediate session.”
Patients can use the phone line to discuss any level of need.
“Students can access the 24/7 counseling services phone line for any issue they would seek counseling in our office for,” said Washburn University Counselor Emily Meyerhoffer. “This includes anxiety, depression, grief, stress, thoughts of self-harm or suicide – going through a break-up, or other relationship concerns.”
If phone services are not preferred, students can take advantage of drop-in hours each Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“A texting hotline may be beneficial,” said the anonymous student. “While there is a hotline you can call, some people get anxiety from talking over the phone. An individual may live on campus and feel uncomfortable calling in front of their roommates.”
Director Leming welcomes students to share any questions or concerns they have about counseling services with her. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information regarding operating hours, drop-in appointments and emergency resources, visit https://www.washburn.edu/student-life/services/counseling/
A list of Washburn counseling staff providers can be found at https://www.washburn.edu/student-life/services/counseling/staff-providers.html
Edited by Adam White, Jason Morrison