The Counseling Center is struggling to meet the needs of an ever-growing student population because of a lack of resources, and clients are being turned away as a result.
Gregory Snodgrass is assistant vice president of Student Affairs and director of the Counseling Center. He said concerns for the mental health of students have been raised because of the center’s inability to address the magnitude of clients’ needs. The Counseling Center is not being proportionally funded to support the increase in students, resulting in a space and manpower deficit, he said.
Snodgrass said during a Feb. 6 presentation to thethe Counseling Center had 447 initial consultations for first-time clients this fall. In total, 2,562 appointments were attended last semester, and 1,127 students were turned away. There were 1,700 students turned away during the entirety of the 2011-2012 academic year.
“This seems to be a real crisis for the university,” said Mary Cavitt, professor in the School of Music.
There are seven to eight initial consultations scheduled for each day, and they are fully booked before 8:30 a.m., Snodgrass said. Students are told to call back another day when turned away.
Snodgrass said not all students call back, and Counseling Center staff are trying to devise a way to track those whom the office loses. Snodgrass estimates 50 percent of those students turned away never call back.
“It takes a lot for a student to get up the gumption to call the Counseling Center
for the first time,” Snodgrass said. “We don’t like that turn away.”
The center is accredited through the International Association of Counseling Services, according to its webpage. The services suggest centers have one counselor for every 1,500 students. Snodgrass said Texas State has one counselor per every 3,400 students. Some schools do not meet the suggested number, but most come closer to it than Texas State does, Snodgrass said.
“I’ve been here for 35 years, and I’ve been asking for (more) people for 35 years,” Snodgrass said. “I never will have enough, but if we could get enough people to a level where it is comparable to most other places, I would understand.”
The below-average number of counselors cannot be remedied because of disproportional funding to student enrollment and lack of space in the Counseling Center, Snodgrass said.
“The funding is just going in other directions right now,” Snodgrass said.
Michel Conroy, School of Art and Design professor, said faculty senators have received concerns about the availability of counselors to help students during crisis situations.
Cavitt said a student expressed suicidal sentiments and couldn’t be seen at the Counseling Center after repeated calls last semester. The student has been consulted at the center this spring, but the scant amount of appointments for potential clients is still a concern, Cavitt said.
The center sees approximately 140 crisis intervention appointments a year, Snodgrass said.
Students expressing suicidal intentions can get in touch with an on-call counselor, according to the center’s website.
“If somebody is suicidal, we will see them,” Snodgrass said.
Advisers and parents can recommend students for an appointment at the Counseling Center, in addition to staff referrals, Snodgrass said. These referrals have contributed to the “significant surge” in students the center sees, Snodgrass said.
Faculty senators suggested the office increase involvement at the Personalized Academic and Career Exploration Center. They expressed concerns about a lack of presence at the Round Rock Higher Education Center.
A temporary practical clinic has been set up at Round Rock by its psychology and counseling program because the resources on the main campus could not be spared, Snodgrass said.