In Fall 2020 a slight increase in tuition will be used to advance ISU’s student mental health and wellness services.
The academic year has already reinforced the need to address the increased demand for mental health services at ISU. The total number of counselors at ISU’s Student Counseling Center (SCC) has fallen to only five after recently losing a full-time counselor.
The Center has over 15 interns who are Masters and Ph.D. students studying counseling, in addition to several contract counselors who work about five hours per week in the Student Counseling Center.
The lack of staffing at the SCC has substantially affected student waiting periods to see a counselor. Waiting periods have been as long as eight weeks for a single appointment. “We have over 40 students on a wait-list. So, while we are trying, we are struggling,” says Melissa Grinslade, staff counselor at the SCC.
The Student Government Association sees that if the waiting periods become longer, students will not be able to schedule appointments to resolve their immediate concerns, which could negatively impact ISU’s retention and graduation rates.
To accommodate these urgent issues, SGA has proposed a $75 Student Health and Wellness Fee. This fee would primarily impact students who are enrolled in six or more credit hours and are classified as on-campus students.
During the spring 2019 semester, 68% of students voted in favor of a $75 health and wellness fee per semester that would be used to provide more access to mental health services for students, as well as additional resources and training for students, staff and faculty for the purpose of improving overall health and wellness on campus.
Once the student body gave advisory approval of the fee, the next step was to receive approval from the Board of Trustees. So, in June 2019, the ISU Board of Trustees approved, but reduced the fee to $40 for fall and spring semester students and $20 for summer beginning in the fall 2020 semester.
With the health and wellness fee, the Student Counseling Center will be able to use over 70% of the revenue to continue the process of hiring more counselors to the facility. The rest will be used for preventive educational programming and training for students and employees, such as educating students on resiliency, coping skills, suicide prevention, etc. Staff are also exploring online and app-based programs to meet a variety of learning styles.
Andy Morgan, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, shares his optimism for the newest proposals.
“I know our students need additional health and wellness services and I am grateful that our students and our Board of Trustees supported the implementation of this fee,” Morgan says, “Since the fee does not go into effect for another 10 months, we have the time to explore how to best use it.”