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Can the 1-in-4 find the help they need?

Staff April 5, 2012 Opinion No Comments

One in four.
This was the tagline of a campaign by Active Minds, a national collegiate mental health advocacy group with chapters all over the U.S., including here at Ohio Wesleyan.
It represents the roughly 25 percent of adults diagnosed with mental illnesses. It is important to note, this statistic is only of diagnosed cases; it is possible that more exist, but go undetected due to barriers to treatment such as social stigma and unavailability of mental health services.
Active Minds works to combat these and other barriers, hoping to foster an environment where everyone can get access to the treatment they need without hesitation.
This has long made me wonder about the prevalence of mental health concerns at Ohio Wesleyan.
As a psychology student hoping to enter the field of counseling, I wonder “are our counseling services equipped to handle this demand?”
If we take ¼ of the student body (1850), we have an estimated 462.5 students needing mental health services. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Especially when compared to the capacity of counseling services, which is staffed only by 2 full-time and 2 part-time counselors.
If we assume that each of the full-time counselors work 40 hour weeks, and that the 2 part-time counselors work 20 hour weeks, that gives us 120 hour-long sessions per week available for students. (It is likely that the 2 part time counselors work more than 20 hours, but still under 40. If we assumed they worked 30 hour weeks, this only gives us 140 hour long sessions per week).
Let’s say all of the OWU students decide to seek treatment for their illnesses. If we fill the 120 available sessions per week, 342.5 (74 percent) are left without treatment.
If every student struggling with a mental illness at Ohio Wesleyan called Counseling Services today, only 1 in 4 of them could reasonably expect an appointment this week. Another one in four of them would wait a month, or maybe even longer.
If the health center posted similar wait times, parents would have the phones at OWU ringing off the hook.
While Counseling Services is able to provide a referral, the added cost and possible travel may well serve as a deterrent for some students, thus decreasing the proportion who receives the services they need.
By continuing to view mental health services as a corner to be cut, the safety, happiness and productivity of students is endangered. The loss of focus and energy accompanied by many mental illnesses can be debilitating, and once simple tasks can become monumental struggles.
Unfortunately, Ohio Wesleyan is no stranger to dangerous and sometimes tragic events that possibly could’ve been avoided with abundant counseling services.
My intent is not to belittle the counseling department, actually to the contrary. In my experience it is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly professionals who are passionate about their work.
My aim is to draw attention to their need for support as an entity of student services.
The number for counseling services is (740) 368-3145.

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