Wellness Services has a two week waiting period to get in and see a counselor, according to Assistant Director of Wellness Services Kristen Peltz.
That’s two weeks a student has to deal with stress on their own.
That’s 14 days a student has to contemplate subtle questions of self-doubt taking root.
That’s 336 hours a student has to cope with crippling anxiety before a qualified professional can tell them “It’s OK.”
That’s 20,160 minutes a student is bombarded with the negative thoughts.
That’s 1,209,600 seconds out of which students only need one to decide to just give up.
That is unacceptable.
According to Peltz, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Wellness Services decide how many counselors are hired for the University. It’s baffling they haven’t decided to hire more than four full-time counselors and one part-time counselor. That’s four counselors for roughly 7,104, or one counselor per 1,776 students, excluding who the part-time counselor can help.
Peltz also said the Wellness Services budget plays a part. While the budget primarily comes from designated student fees, if that’s not enough, the University should allocate a greater amount of money to the department.
The Forever Green campaign is raising funds to assist in improving campus. Northwest should probably use a portion of those funds to help Wellness Services out if money is an issue. Afterall, it’s hard to be forever green if you’re forever stuck in your room with devastating depression.
The University Police Department does help fill the gap with well-being checks. A well-being check happens whenever a parent, friend, residential assistant or someone contacts Wellness Services to alert them about a student’s condition. The University Police Department then checks in with them to make sure they’re OK.
However, that’s not enough. Well-being checks only provide a short-term solution. Students suffering from mental health issues need long-term solutions that can only be provided by qualified counselors.
During the wait time to get those long-term solutions, students might even lose interest, dismissing the wait as not worth their time. People hate waiting seconds for a web page to load, let alone weeks for a therapy session.
While Wellness Services needs to make changes soon to address these issues, it’s worth noting that what they do provide is helpful for students. Once students finally get past a long wait time to see a counselor, the help they receive is impactful and positive.
Wellness Services also works to provide students with events throughout the year that are focused on combating stress and helping students. Especially around finals week, they tend to organize multiple ways for students to get a few hours of cutting back on stress before getting back to studying.
However, until Wellness Services can increase the accessibility of its main counseling services, countless students will go without the help they need. It’s not just on them either, the University must step up and ensure the department has the resources it needs. With finals week lined up, this is not the time to have a two week wait between students and help.