Editorial: Counseling Center making progress, needs more resources
As Mental Health Awareness Week comes to a close, students and student organizations have voiced their discontent toward the MSU Counseling Center. The center, which should be the most accessible mental health resource for MSU students and faculty, has been criticized for long waiting list periods and its student-to-staff ratio. Currently, the MSU Counseling Center’s website lists only 10 counseling staff members and four doctoral interns.
The Counseling Center has a responsibility to the students who call East Lansing home. It needs to be the most accessible mental health resource for students, but excessive waiting periods that stem from an understaffed center could drive students to seek other options off campus.
But those options are inaccessible for students who might not have the transportation, or the funds depending on their insurance providers, to use them. This university is responsible for students’ wellbeing while they are enrolled and that wellbeing includes their mental health. Since its current system drives students into pursuing other options, it’s hard to believe mental health is considered a priority.
However, the center could finally see improvements by fall 2017. The State News reported that the new counseling services will have a staff-to-student ratio of 1 to 2,778 for the 2017-18 academic year.
It’s easy to make promises. What matters, what is vital to MSU’s student body, is that these promises are kept.
According to a September 2016 Keeling and Associates report, the MSU Counseling Center’s staff-to-student ratio in 2014-15 was 1 to 5,000, compared to other Big Ten Schools with a ratio of 1 to 2,000. The report goes on to say the recommended ratio by the International Association of Counseling Centers is 1 to 1,000-1,500.
Should the MSU Counseling Center follow up on these promises, the staff-to-student ratio would be nearly cut in half from what was most recently reported. It’s a step in the right direction that would get more students the help they need at a much quicker rate.
It’s a step, but one step is not enough. The Counseling Center will need to keep taking steps like this in order to gain back the trust of students who previously avoided it because of past complaints. The Counseling Center is a resource students will always need, and as time goes by, more students will hopefully find the courage to come forward and seek help.
Once they take that step, they shouldn’t be burned by a counseling center that can’t take them.
The State News Editorial Board agrees that the Counseling Center is promising much-needed improvements, but calls on the center to make sure these promises are kept and to listen to the input of the student body it is responsible for.
The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-chief Jake Allen, Managing Editor Cameron Macko, Campus Editor Rachel Fradette, City Editor Stephen Olschanski, Sports Editor Souichi Terada, Copy Chief Casey Holland, Staff Representative Marie Weidmayer and Diversity Representative Madison O’Connor.
Features Editor McKenna Ross did not sit in on this editorial.