We are writing in response to Claire Fornarola’s article “Mental health programs could use more support” (Nov. 15). While one can always make an argument for allocating more resources to some type of health care, several parts of Ms. Fornarola’s piece bear careful scrutiny.
First, the services provided by UCC are not “free” nor are they a “gift.” They are paid for by the mandatory health fee that every full-time student pays. It costs money to hire staff, provide space in which staff can meet with students, etc. The decision to limit individual counseling sessions to 10 per student per year is a necessary result of this fact. By doing so, we can assure the availability of individual counseling to all students.
Brief treatment is the most common model used in college mental health today, and many schools allow fewer than 10 sessions on a prepaid basis. Research has shown that brief treatment can be highly effective for the reduction of symptoms by teaching people skills to manage their feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness. It is important to note that students will average using about five to six sessions of therapy when given the opportunity to choose how many sessions they want or need at any given point in time.
UCC has many low-cost referral options within the University as well as within the community for the small number of students who need more than 10 individual sessions in a year. There is no limit on the number of UCC group therapy sessions that a student can attend in a year; this too has been shown to be a highly effective method of treatment. UCC also provides unlimited individual visits for psychopharmacologic support.
Ongoing data collection at UCC shows that students find their treatment to be helpful objectively and subjectively. All of the UCC-based faculty are licensed in NYS. UCC (as part of UHS) is accredited by the Joint Commission, the same organization that accredits Strong Memorial Hospital. UCC’s training program for Master’s level therapists is accredited by the American Psychological Association.
We welcome input from students regarding all UCC and UHS programs. The Student Health Advisory Committee meets regularly with senior leaders from UHS/UCC to provide feedback and suggestions. More information is available on the UHS Web site.
-Lisa Willis, Ph.D.Director of University Counseling Center
-Ralph Manchester, M.D.Director of University Health Service