STAYING COMMITTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

GVSU's Counseling Center needs more funding to function

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 4/3/16 9:27pm

editorial


Dealing with full loads of classes, exams and projects while maintaining a healthy social life, body and mind can be a lot for someone to deal with. Students are well aware of the mental toll that college can have on a person. Luckily, Grand Valley State University has a Counseling Center available that students can use for free. The Counseling Center provides different types of services to fit a student's specific needs. Though GVSU provides counseling services that are available to all students, it would be beneficial to allocate additional funds and resources at GVSU to a program as vital and as in-demand as the Counseling Center.

We understand the university's main purpose is not as a full-time mental health facility, but mental illness and distress are ever-increasingly present issues on our campus. This is an issue that should not be shorted in any way.

Since last year, there has been an increase of 13 students referred to the hospital for mental health crises, and an increase of 22 total crisis incidents. Additionally, three Lakers committed suicide this year. While these numbers may seem insignificant in a student body of more than 25,000, any increase in mental health crises should be alarming to the GVSU community.

Though the Counseling Center employs over 26 staff members, often, counselors' schedules are booked back-to-back without much room for walk-ins. At some point, when schedules are this full, there is a process of prioritization that occurs. Those with the most severe cases are fit into the schedule as soon as possible, as they should be.

However, this brings up an interesting dilemma. What situations take precedence over others? For those suffering any kind of trauma, consistency can be a key part in the healing process. It's important that we provide resources for everyone, no matter the level of risk.

At certain times in the year, like in October, the busiest month for the Counseling Center, students may have to face up to a two-week wait. If a student is seeking help and are forced to wait, they may feel discouraged from getting any type of help at all. For a student struggling to keep up with classes and daily life, two weeks is a long time to wait.

This does not mean the Counseling Center will ever turn away a person in need, it simply shows the counseling services at GVSU are being used to their full potential and then some.

In Allendale, there aren't many resources, either. There are just a few private counseling centers in Allendale, but a student's insurance may not cover the cost, if they have insurance at all. Grand Rapids offers more counseling resources, but if a student doesn't have a car, it may be difficult for them to travel.

In order to keep GVSU's mental health resources running smoothly, and to ensure that all students who are in need of counseling have a place to go in a timely manner, the university needs to allocate more funds toward the Counseling Center. There are many students making use of this important resource, and extra funds and counselors for the center would ensure room for more students to utilize the resource, allowing the program to operate to the best of its ability. While we understand that resources are stretched thin across the entire university, mental health isn't something that should be put on a shelf, to be looked at on a later date.

The mental health of Lakers should be a priority, and funding allocations need to reflect the university's commitment to the wellbeing of its students.

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