Health and Wellness counselors booked for the semester

By Heather Johansen

A campus-wide resource that’s not always taken advantage of is facing increased demand that is struggling to be met. Macalester’s counseling services in the Health and Wellness Center (HWC) offer students 10 free 45-minute counseling sessions over the course of an academic year, but availability for these counseling appointments tend to fill up within the first couple of weeks of each semester, resulting in a number of students who are not receiving the counseling that they are expecting and requesting. Ted Rueff, licensed psychologist and Associate Director of HWC counseling services, said that not only is there an increased student interest in counseling, but the concerns that students are presenting are becoming more serious. “To help meet the growing need, HWC has over the years increased its professional staff, added and then increased graduate student staff, contracted the services of a consulting psychiatrist, and occasionally hired temporary provider staff,” Rueff said. Each week there are 70 available counseling spots, seven of which are drop-in appointments. Students hoping to get into a drop-in appointment are told to arrive early. Sign-up for drop-in slots begins 30 minutes prior to each appointment. The drop-in hours can be found on the HWC website. Students also have the option of being wait-listed, in which case they can receive an appointment following another student’s cancellation. Macalester currently employs one part-time and three full-time counselors. There are also two contracted part-time students and a psychiatrist on staff. Last year, Counseling Services served about 300 individual students over the course of 1,500 visits of student, staff and faculty consultations. They also provided other forms of community support, such as support groups, staff trainings and community outreach. ‘“When a student is unable to secure an immediate appointment, they are invited to meet with our office manager who begins with a brief assessment to ensure that a crisis situation doesn’t go unaddressed,” said Rueff. “If there’s no immediate crisis, the student is given the option of joining a wait list. Based on their schedule availability we can give them some idea of expected wait times.” There is also a referral list of 109 local licensed therapists that’s offered to students should they be unable to get an appointment. Reuff said that students are also provided with detailed referral guidance for off-campus sites. “Macalester is fortunate to be situated within walking distance [of] a large number of excellent off-campus providers,” he said. He recommends that students contact Health and Wellness as soon as a need arises. “In the case where a student has a pre-existing condition and wishes to transition their care or a student anticipates a future concern, we recommend setting up appointments as soon as possible—usually the week prior to the start of each semester,” he said. Macalester students are required to provide evidence of insurance coverage to help eliminate obstacles in securing such off-campus support. Students are also offered detailed information about after-hour emergency resources and protocols should the need for such services arise. Reuff insists the main message HWC wants to send to students who seek counseling support is that they are headed in the right direction. “We believe that no one should suffer alone,” he said. “We’ll make every effort to ensure that [students] get the support [they] need. The system we set up is designed to do just that.” refresh –>