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Students utilizing on campus mental health services reaches all time high in fall semester

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Mental Health Counselor Kristal Flaming visits with a student. 

Doane Counseling and Health Services have been busy. They had over 600 appointments last semester.

The current state of affairs is great, though, said Myron Parsley, director of Counseling and Health Services,.

Counseling and Health Services has new area in Padour Walker, two full time counselors and an intern. There is a wide range of options for students seeking mental health treatment.

Parsley said with all these options, students are getting the help they need.

“I think overall we are in great shape,” Parsley said. “We had probably a record number of sessions scheduled in the fall semester, just under 600, which is the most we’ve had since Kristal (Flaming) has been on board.”

Parsley said counseling services is getting good usage from students, and keeping up has not been an issue.

“It has been busy, but students are able to get in, and there is no waiting list,” Parsley said. “We are both busy when we are here, but it hasn’t gotten to the point that we can’t work with students that we need to.”

The main counseling center isn’t the only place mental health issues are uncovered though. Kelly Jirovec, director of Student Health, said that physical symptoms associated with mental illness lead her to being the first to notice.

“A lot of students come in here, and for me they will come in not feeling well, but in the assessment and conversation we find they are stressed or have had an event in their life that has caused some anxiety,” Jirovec said. “Those mental health issues sometimes come out in a physical way too, and I’m often the first line because you don’t need an appointment to come here.”

Jirovec said the resources for students seeking help with mental illness at Doane offers many benefits to students.

“I think we have really great resources here,” Jirovec said. “We have a good mix with the two counselors we have, a male and female, that offers flexibility with students.”

Jirovec said she can offer basic assistance in these situations. She said will always refer students showing signs of mental health issues to counseling services.

“I can help students in the immediate time, but I am not a mental health counselor,” Jirovec said. “I will refer students on to them for extended help.”

According to an NPR article, depression and anxiety may statistically be on the rise for students. Much of this has to do with effective counseling starting at a younger age.

“A study presented at the American Psychological Association found that the number of students on psychiatric medicines increased more than 10 percentage points over the last 10 years,” the article reads. “The reason for this increase has to do with the success of treating younger students. Today, there are more effective public and private sector counseling programs for children.”