The Feb. 20 article on mental health resources at the Stone Center highlights a growing trend in higher education: the increased need for psychiatric services at the undergraduate level. While some clinical concerns can be addressed with brief therapy or in groups, others require ongoing therapy, medication or both.
College counseling centers like the Stone Center can provide brief therapy on site, but they must refer students who require long-term treatment to outside resources because it is not possible for staff to provide that level of treatment for every student who needs it. At Wellesley, we are fortunate to have access to local professionals who are able to offer long-term treatment to our students.
When a student is hospitalized for psychiatric treatment, the Stone Center’s student care coordinator visits the hospital to help plan the student’s return to campus. If a student leaves the hospital before this meeting occurs, the coordinator will work with the clinical staff to activate the discharge treatment plans. An addition to the Stone Center team in early 2018, our student care coordinator can help students navigate the insurance system, identify potential providers and inquire about their availability, and help with scheduling. It is important to note, however, that students must choose who will ultimately provide their psychiatric care. The sense of ownership that comes from making this important decision is necessary to ensure an effective clinical relationship.
While the student care coordinator can help put the clinical plan in motion, it is the class dean who works on behalf of the student to activate academic support and connect the student to other resources on campus. It can take time to stabilize after a serious psychological incident, and for some students, it is not possible to recover while also managing the rigors of a Wellesley education. A leave of absence to prioritize health and healing does not indicate a failure on the part of either the student or the institution.
Like other colleges, Wellesley tries to provide all students with the level of service they need when they need it and we are constantly reassessing the Stone Center’s effectiveness in meeting that goal. Earlier this month, we sent a survey to all students who have used the Stone Center in the past semester; the feedback will help us strengthen our services. For example, we implemented our online scheduling for immediate support sessions in response to a previous survey recommendation.
If you have sought services and need additional support, if a referral did not work out or if your treatment plan needs to be revised, I urge you to contact the Stone Center staff. Please know that your mental health, well-being and growth and development are our priority.
Sheilah Shaw Horton
Vice President and Dean of Students