ASUU Passes Resolution to Create Crisis Response Team, Increase Availability of Counseling


College can be emotionally and mentally draining, resulting in depression and anxiety for some.

Last year, the U’s Counseling Center intervened with students contemplating suicide 557 times and hospitalized 36 of those students. This is a 492 percent increase in student crisis sessions from 2014. Students not in crisis, meaning they don’t need immediate care, may need to wait up to four weeks for counseling or treatment from the center.

To address the rising number of students needing counseling, the ASUU Assembly and Senate unanimously passed Joint Resolution 6 last week to create a “Crisis Response Team.” The group will include two licensed full-time staff and one outreach staff specializing in treatment of members of underserved populations.

ASUU President Ambra Jackson drafted the legislation in Fall 2015 after meeting with Rob Davies, the clinical director of the Counseling Center.

“The U has a core value of student success and engagement through personalized support — therefore I believe all counseling services should be a higher priority to the university,” Jackson said.

The resolution is part of the U’s initiative to meet the goals of this academic year’s Pac-12 Leadership Summit, which include objectives to address the mental health needs of students on campus. Jackson said the U is second-to-last among Pac-12 schools in its ratio of counselors to students.

Despite a growing student body, there has not been a staffing increase at the U’s Counseling Center for 15 years. With just 12 full-time counselors, the university fails to meet the standards of the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS). The organization recommends that universities hire one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students. With more than 31,000 students registered at the U this academic year, the Counseling Center has a deficit of about 10 counselors.

“When our university is below IACS standards, our students suffer,” Jackson said.

Along with hiring three new licensed staff members for the Crisis Response Team, the resolution set a goal to hire a full-time psychiatrist and two additional full-time therapists to decrease wait times for other students seeking counseling.

Lennard Neuwirth, a junior in computer science, said he believes Joint Resolution 6 will help to meet the needs of students as well as prevent future crises.

“If students are waiting a long time to receive treatment, their condition could turn into one of crisis,” Neuwirth said. “Making staff more available to those students will keep their mental health from continuing to deteriorate.”

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