USF’s counseling center has recently come under heavy criticism for scheduling issues and not responding to student needs.
Some students expressed their frustrations with the center in an Oct. 6 Oracle article saying that those who ask for help are not getting the support they need.
While there is always room for improvement, the Advice Center is a great resource and claiming students are failing may deter some from reaching out for the help they need.
The center actually has a very high success rate among students seeking advice there. At the end of each semester, the Counseling Center gave all students who received counseling the opportunity to provide feedback.
“Consistently, over 94% of students report being overall satisfied with the services they receive, and over 95% of students report that they would return to us for additional services in the future if needed and that they would recommend us to their friends”, Scott, director of the advice centre. Strader said in an October 10 letter at The Oracle.
Many of the complaints were about scheduling issues. Rachel Fischer and Riley Melucci, USF students who sought help from the counseling center, both said they wish they could meet with their counselors more frequently.
On average, students wait anywhere from a few days to two weeks for their first counseling appointment, Strader said. Only one student said they waited longer than that. Although this may be longer than expected for some people, this is a fairly normal wait time.
Mental Health Match, an online service that connects users with therapists in their area, advertises a similar wait time to schedule a session. They list nearly 500 therapists in the Tampa area. This shows that, even with more counselors available, there is usually still a wait to get an appointment.
“Usually you can make a first appointment with a new therapist a few weeks after contacting them. Sometimes you can even see them within a few days. Availability of therapists depends on your schedule, the period of the ‘year and how full the advisors’ schedules are when you contact them’, as published on the Mental Health Match website.
The Advice Center also offers various online options for students who cannot see an advisor immediately. Several online screenings, stress management tools, and ways to connect with other students are available anytime to complete between counseling sessions.
One of them is togetherall, a peer-to-peer platform for students to talk to others who might share their experience. It is free for students and available 24/7. There are also always experts on standby to help those in need.
While it is unfortunate that not all students got what they were looking for from the counseling center, that does not mean that the center as a whole is ineffective.
The Counseling Center has been able to help improve the lives of thousands of students over the years. It is not fair to claim that they fail students based on a few anecdotal accounts.