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Drake: Ohio State counseling services on par with high demand; contradicts USG

OSU president Michael Drake in 2016. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Former Photo Editor

President Michael Drake disputed an Undergraduate Student Government claim concerning the wait time for individual counseling session appointments, in an interview with The Lantern Wednesday.

He said the usual waiting period for a typical individual session is a week or less. USG said in February that students were waiting up to six weeks for those appointments with Ohio State’s Counseling and Consultation Service.

“I was told [in the first year of my employment] that the average statistic was about 18 days, which is too long,” Drake said. “[CCS] now triages within a day and can see someone [for an appointment] within a week, which seems to work well.”

Sophie Chang, USG vice president, said the six-week assertion was not based on a scientific study, but an estimate based on feedback from students who were struggling to schedule appointments with CCS.

“Let’s call tomorrow and see how long it takes,” Drake said. “It’s not six weeks.”

 

I think we under-imagined how popular those services would be as we dramatically increased them. So we’ll look — as we find our demand increases — we’ll look at more efficient and effective ways of working together. But I think it’s very important. – Ohio State President Michael Drake

 

Drake explained the “one call, one week” objective, in which students call and complete a same-day assessment, and then are contacted about scheduling an appointment within one week.

He pointed out that it normally takes about a week to see any doctor for nonemergency purposes, and same-day appointments for mental-health issues are feasible only in crisis situations.

“We like our services to be optimal and as exemplary as possible,” Drake said. “The goal here is to provide service. The quicker and more effectively and efficiently we can do it, the better.”

When asked if CCS was functioning appropriately given the size and scope of the university it serves, Drake responded with a confident “yes.”

Last fall, CCS was faced with a 43 percent surge in students seeking to schedule counseling appointments, Micky Sharma, CCS director, told The Lantern in February.

“I would say that we didn’t expect a 40 percent increase in utilization, but as it began to work better, it became even more desirable,” Drake said. “I think we under-imagined how popular those services would be as we dramatically increased them. So we’ll look — as we find our demand increases — we’ll look at more efficient and effective ways of working together. But I think it’s very important.”

There were several things that factored into the increase last year, said USG President Andrew Jackson.

“Last year was a unique year considering various events on campus that required CCS attention,” Jackson said. “A lot more happened last year than CCS could have possibly anticipated.”

On Nov. 28 of last year, an Ohio State student ran his car through a crowd of people on campus and attacked the group with a knife. CCS offered emergency counseling services immediately after the incident.

All Ohio State students have 10 free individual counseling sessions available to schedule per academic year as part of the student activity fee.

CCS also posted an announcement titled “Impact of Presidential Election Results” on Nov. 9. The announcement read, “We are particularly mindful that this election season has included hurtful and vitriolic rhetoric impacting many people. As always, we encourage you to reach out for support as well as extend support to others.”

The announcement concluded with CCS contact information and an after-hours option that would immediately link the caller to a therapist.

“CCS does a really good job with responding to events that affect a wide range of students,” Chang said. “When I was a [resident advisor] last year and one of my residents passed away, CCS had counselors over to our floor within 15 minutes and stayed with us for six hours.”

In order to accommodate more students, CCS expanded its staff by adding 12 new counselors last year and opened a new office in Lincoln Tower.

Jackson said the engineering college also has their own counselor available for students.

“There is now a counselor strictly devoted to the College of Engineering — they saw a need, so they hired a counselor to work directly with the students themselves,” Jackson said.

Drake partially attributed the increase in students utilizing CCS to the decline of stigmas around seeking help for mental health.

In addition to individual counseling services, CCS offers group sessions for various issues and free workshops that teach students time and stress management, how to beat anxiety and perfectionist tendencies, and yoga and art workshops at the Younkin Success Center on campus.

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