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Counseling Center amps up after-hours services

Counseling Center amps up after-hours services

Beginning Feb. 1, if a student wishes to access mental health services outside of Counseling Center hours, Campus Safety will connect them with ProtoCall, a behavioral health call center that provides 24-hour access to masters- and doctoral-level counselors.

For the past several years, whenever a student needed mental health assistance outside of the Counseling Center’s hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Campus Safety would connect the student with the Kenyon counselor on-call. The College’s six full-time counselors previously manned this 24/7 hotline for students. The counselors did not receive additional pay for working on-call — it was considered part of their job responsibilities.

In April 2016, consultants from the College of Wooster, Davidson College and Middlebury College conducted an external review of Kenyon’s health and wellness services to identify what the College was doing well and where it could improve. In their report, which they submitted in May 2016, the consultants recommended that Kenyon reconsider its after-hours counseling system, stating that too much was demanded of the counselors.

Interim Co-Director of Counseling Services Mike Durham agreed with this assessment. “Certainly the ability to sleep through the night makes us more present and better prepared in the daytime,” Durham said.

To address this issue, Janet Lohmann, dean of students, formed the Counseling Task Force, a body that met five times last semester to discuss the implementation of additional after-hours support. The Counseling Task Force brought together representatives from the Counseling Center, Campus Safety, the Office of Housing and Residential Life, the Sexual Misconduct Advisors and the Peer Counselors. The group explored the after-hours options suggested by the external review, one of which was ProtoCall.

ProtoCall will be available whenever the Counseling Center is not open, including weekends and breaks. The Counseling Center has been working with ProtoCall to ensure that they are in tune with Kenyon culture. ProtoCall has a working file on Kenyon that includes “Kenyon slang” (for example, using the term “Community Advisor” rather than “Resident Advisor”), important locations on campus, information about Kenyon’s demographics, important events on Kenyon’s campus and more.

“Our counseling center has worked with them to understand key pieces of our campus so the conversation can flow a bit more readily,” Lohmann said.

According to Meredith Krieg ’17, whenever there is a significant or traumatic event on Kenyon’s campus, Kenyon’s ProtoCall file will be flagged. They do this so counselors can adequately prepare for an influx of student calls.

ProtoCall will not replace the Kenyon counselor hotline, said Associate Director for Housing and Residential Life Lisa Train, who represented ResLife on the Task Force. When a student expresses the need for face-to-face, Kenyon-specific or emergency help, ProtoCall will alert the Kenyon counselor on-call.

“The counseling staff will still remain on call for emergencies and will come to campus when needed,” Interim Co-Director of Counseling Services Nikki Keller said.

The cost of contracting with ProtoCall will be funded with money from the Valerie Cox Student Support Fund, which supports student health and wellness initiatives of the Cox Health and Counseling Center. Lohmann declined to disclose the cost of ProtoCall’s services. “It is not appropriate for me to discuss the cost of ProtoCall as a service,” Lohmann wrote in an email to the Collegian. The College’s contract with ProtoCall stipulates 50 calls per month but allows for more calls at an additional cost; no caller will be denied because the College has exceeded the number of monthly calls, Lohmann said.

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