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WISCONSIN — More college students in the University of Wisconsin System are seeking out mental health services.


What You Need To Know

  • The University of Wisconsin System cites more than a 50% increase over 10 years in student demand for mental health services on campus
  • Two out of every three students said their academic focus improved after counseling
  • UW asked the state for $10 million to hire counselors to meet student needs, but the request was not approved

The latest assessment report cites a years-long increase in student demand for services on campus. It’s up more than 50% over the last 10 years.

At UW-Stevens Point, 73 students are on a waiting list right now to access services.

Dr. Stacey Gerken, licensed psychologist and director of the school’s counseling center said, “We just cannot meet demand for services as hard as we are working to get students in.”

The center surveys students who have used its services.

“The consistent feedback that we are getting is, access to mental health treatment can really help them stay in school, it can help them focus on academics better and be more successful students,” Gerken said.

According to the UW System, more than 80% of students who sought mental health counseling reported improvements in their well-being. Four out of five, who considered dropping out over the last eight years, said counseling helped them stay enrolled.

But again, not every student in Wisconsin or across the U.S. has access to counseling.

“There’s been a 30 to 40% increase ​in requests for services across the nation, while there’s only been about a 5% increase in enrollment,” Gerken said. “So the demand for services across the nation on campuses has increased over the last 10 years.”

Dr. Gerken pointed out, right now, the biggest hurdle is the number of resources at UW-Stevens Point and the ability to hire new counselors.

“We currently have five, full-time counselors on staff, and we do occasionally use someone who is part-time from the community,” she said.

But this is not enough, according to Dr. Gerken, to keep up with the demand.

She mentioned the university will at some point need support to increase resources on campus. UW System President Tommy Thompson asked for $10 million in the latest state budget to hire more counselors.

The request was not approved.

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(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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