The college campus counselor is a staple of ever campus in the US. The problem is that they are often accused of failing to fulfill the needs of the one-third of students struggling to function. To an extent, this is true. But with some simple changes and by acknowledging certain problems with the way these issues are treated, students can get more from counseling services on campus.
The Way Mental Health is Treated
Campus counselors will speak to students about a variety of issues, including gender confusing, getting over fear of past failures, and general stress regarding exams. But you can take practically every single one of these problems and boil them down to mental health.
Many students dont get the help they need because they are scared to come forward, and it can make surviving the year hard. A lot of the time its due to the perception of mental health in colleges. Its not that people think mental health issues are for the weak. Most people have moved past this. The problem is that in an attempt to encourage students to come forward it has become almost patronizing.
Students are made to feel as if there is something wrong with them. And that has to change. Students must not be patronized and they must not be treated as if they are somehow different from everyone else.
Splitting Counseling Services
Go to the average campus and you will come across a doctor or a counselor who is there to treat practically everyone, regardless of the issues at hand. Part of the reason is that colleges have attempted to be efficient. They have attempted to save money by employing someone who can do everything.
The problem is that counseling services are not geared towards specific problems. And that can leave students receiving inferior treatment. The best counselors are those who are trained in delivering specialized treatments, including medication and holistic, like trying meditation. In other words, its about finding someone who is trained to deal with say stress and bullying.
To improve counseling services, campuses should consider how they can split whats on offer into separate departments. For example, having someone who deals separately with men and women is a great idea. Actions like this will improve the quality of treatment on offer.
Opening at Unsociable Hours
Campus counselors are only open for a few hours every day, and they are often the hours where mental health problems are least likely to crop up for the 100,000 students who have them. A 24-hour service is essential. Most mental health problems on college campuses tend to become overwhelming during unsociable hours.
Someone should have the option to get the help they need, even if its in the middle of the night. Yes, this does require more money to have someone who is always on-call, but it could be the difference between someone bottling up their issues and getting the mental health screenings they need.
Stop Making It Like a Clinic
The clinical atmosphere within counseling rooms is exactly what puts people off. Nobody wants to feel as if something is wrong with them. Its why hospitals are so often not the first port of call for people who need help dealing with problems in their lives. The clinical environment often feels like a prison.
College campuses should go out of their way to create the right environment for students who come to them. They should be able to make it feel as if they are stepping into someones home. By placing an emphasis on comfort, campuses are accomplishing two things.
First of all, they are making it more likely that students are going to approach them. Secondly, they are more likely to relax and more likely to speak when they are actually there.
Everyone who visits mental support services on campus should have a support worker assigned to them. This person will know about them and they will be able to deliver personalized treatments. Its not something that should happen in any other way, otherwise, it gives off the impression that they are being passed from professional to professional.
A good counselor feels like a friend. And thats the key to getting people to talk about their issues.
Last Word Making this Work
Unfortunately, making a better service involves more spending to deliver a personalized counseling solution. A lot of colleges are unwilling to afford this without the support of the student body and the governors controlling the campus. With the numbers of sufferers growing, this problem will only become more urgent.