Section: Editorial

Counseling Center: add more resources

The Health and Counseling Center has officially changed its scheduling policy to eliminate automatically recurring appointments; students now have to book their next session at the conclusion of each appointment. The old system of scheduling regular meetings led to sessions that fell by the wayside and ultimately robbed other students of time that could have been theirs. We support this change and the Counseling Center’s attempt to make its services accessible to a greater number of students.

But the new policy doesn’t go far enough: Students don’t just need more time — they need more resources.

Almost half of all Kenyon students use the Counseling Center, and that number is on the rise. The counselors are undoubtedly a valuable resource for many students, but they can only offer so much. The College lacks sufficient resources for students who may need more than a semi-regular meeting with a professional who is not trained in clinical psychology or psychiatry.

At the moment, the Counseling Center has one psychiatrist available several times a month for students who may need a prescription —but this is not a substitute for a full-time psychiatrist. Given that this psychiatrist is only occasionally on campus, students are denied the ability to develop the kind of reliable and close relationship necessary for proper diagnoses and prescriptions — both of which Kenyon students wholly deserve. Students experiencing mental health issues for the first time have to completely rely on this occasional resource and don’t have the benefit of speaking to professionals they saw at home.

The College must also be mindful of the ways in which the Counseling Center’s programming may put strains on students. Peer Counselors, Sexual Misconduct Advisors, Discrimination Advisors and Beer and Sex advisors are not members of the Counseling Center. They are trained, but they lack formal education in handling mental health and substance abuse issues. There are some problems they are not equipped to handle. An increase in the amount of resources provided by the Counseling Center would remove undue strain on these student advisors, allowing them to better help students in the unique ways they do as fellow students.

We ask that the Counseling Center do more than this scheduling change. Find, at minimum, one more counselor to replace former Director Patrick Gilligan, thus restoring the Center to its previous size. Hire a psychiatrist who works regularly on campus each week, who can better monitor students beginning and ending medication and become closely acquainted with the individual experiences of students to make more informed diagnoses and recommendations. Though the Counseling Center can give students a list of other counseling resources in Mount Vernon, it can be difficult for many to get off-campus regularly given our hectic schedules. There is also a benefit to seeing professionals on Kenyon’s campus: They understand the environment in which we live and the institution we attend.

The effort to make time for more students is worthwhile, but quantity does not replace quality.

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