EAST LANSING – Anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts plague Michigan State students at a higher rate compared to other universities, according to a new report from Keeling and Associates.
But while thousands of Spartans suffer, the campus counseling center remains “critically” understaffed.
Music education major, Shannon Moore, knows this first-hand.
“I’ve always been a really anxious person,” said Moore. “My professor suggested that I go to the Counseling Center, but when I got there, [the counselor] was like ‘Oh, well, I won’t be able to see you for another couple of weeks.’ It even took two weeks for me to get recommendations.”
The Counseling Center has one provider for every 5,000 students; way higher than the International Association of Counseling Services suggested ratio of 1-to-1,500.
Keeling and Associates also noted that MSU counseling services are underutilized compared to other Big Ten universities.
“Institutions of Michigan State’s size and enrollment provide direct service to at least 10-percent of the student population … The consultant conclude that utilization is below 50-percent of expected and … there is a high level of unrecognized need and/or unmet demand.”
The Counseling Center has seen this data and will double staff by next fall.
“We’re taking this report extremely seriously,” said interim director of student health services, David Wiseman. “We’ll get eight to nine more staff on the ground by September.”
But some students doubt if this will be enough.
“On the one hand, there’s so many resources, that’s awesome, but on the other hand, students are falling through the cracks,” said social work major Amelia Schon.
Additionally, the Counseling Center is consolidating services to make it easier for students to get help.
“Right now, counseling is in the student services building, and psychiatry is in Olin,” said Wiseman. “We want them in one place.”
And that’s welcome news for Moore.
“For me, it comes back to so many of the problems we have could be solved with making mental health resources more accessible,” said Moore.
By Chloe Kiple