New online counseling services developed for students

Dina Marin

The Counseling Services office notified campus through an email on Friday, Nov. 8 that they launched a variety of online resources on their website. However, some students believe these resources are not enough to help address mental health issues. 
These new online services include screenings, self-help sections, a variety of different books and workbooks, support groups and movies related to mental health.
“With the resources that we have, we are really trying to use the Internet to leverage what we know helps and that students have these resources whenever they need them without having to come to the office,” William Iavarone, director of counseling services, said.
Iavarone said that the past model of counseling at Augie was based merely on making appointments with counselors. But now, it doesn’t work that way. 
“That worked back in the 2000’s-2010’s, but that just doesn’t work anymore,” Iavarone said. “You can’t have students just coming all the time because we have limited resources. I’d love to have 10 counselors, but is that fair to the other students if their tuition increases? So we have to figure out that sweet spot to where it’s not a burden to students financially.”
This past year, Augustana has demonstrated a commitment to address mental health issues and provide helpful resources for students.
While these resources are beneficial, students said that it’s not enough to meet their needs.
“I’ve been doing a lot of research regarding mental health and communication studies about the way we disclose to each other, and a lot of research says that we do need that face-to-face interaction, especially when disclosing to people,” an advocate for The Gray Matters collective, senior Haley DeGreve, said. “I think these online resources are good, but I feel like we still need to have one-on-one interaction and we need more counselors on this campus.”
Students have also called to attention the fact that counseling hours are limited.
“There are a little over 1,000 students per therapist, and we do need more counselors considering one of them is part-time and one of them is just a social worker,” freshman Anna Misener, advocate for The Gray Matters and NAMI, said. “I do think some of the online resources are really helpful, but I feel we need more counselors. I have friends that have been trying to get in for months and can’t get in. They can’t even make it to the emergency hours, because they are just an hour long.”
However, Augie’s administration has different alternatives provided to students. 
“There are numerous alternatives to long-term 1:1 counseling care,” associate dean of students, Laura Schnack said. “Whether that be group workshops, group counseling, self-help resources and making students aware of Quad Cities community resources, there are numerous options to support students.”
Not only are students concerned about the number of counselors on campus but about the way in which mental health is handled by the administration and authorities.
“[The administration] is very cautious, and they don’t know how to talk about mental health openly,” Misener said. “I think that’s one of the really big issues– is that they’re afraid to talk about it.” 
When talking about the information students receive about serious mental health-related issues happening on campus, Degreve explained that the administration should communicate better with the community about these matters 
“We get notifications about car break-ins, about cars being stolen, robberies, but when we have a student that attempts suicide there’s really no communication on that,” DeGreve said. “I feel like if there is an attempted suicide, the school should be like ‘there was an incident on campus, here’s the hotline number if you need it, counseling services are available’ because just because the person didn’t die doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect the community.”
DeGreve also emphasized that it is important that students speak up and take a stand about mental health for the administration to take students’ concerns into consideration. 
“I feel that as students, we hold great responsibility and a lot of students on this campus don’t care enough to come to mental health events, NAMI meetings,” DeGreve said “it really does start with the students. We need to be the ones to stand up and speak about this because if we don’t, who will?”