Among the issues raised during the student-organized walkout last spring were concerns about the availability and efficiency of student health services, issues which the Health and Counseling Center says it is working to address. However, regardless of these efforts, some students have turned to alternative sources of help.
During the walkout, students voiced frustration with the center’s limited hours of operation and lengthy waiting list.
To address this issue, the center has extended their hours, opening an hour earlier each day. In addition, Counselor for Violence Prevention and Educational Outreach, Allison Schieferle Uhlenbrock, has been added to the center’s full-time staff.
“As of last spring, we no longer have a two week waiting list,” said Director of Counseling Services Dan Larson. “If students have a sexual assault or self-harm issue, we can get them in that day.”
As a full-time employee, there is no contract preventing Uhlenbrock from working longer hours, should a need for her services arise. This flexibility in scheduling has allowed her to dedicate part of her time to group-facilitated discussions on campus, such as Wellness Wednesdays.
“This allows us to have more of a presence on campus,” Larson said.
Whether or not the addition of more full time employees is financially feasible has yet to be determined.
Concerns were also raised regarding the discreteness of the check-in process at the center. For this reason, Larson explained that the center has moved the check-in desk from the waiting room to a private area, creating a more privatized check-in process for students.
The center also extended secretary Vicki Swedlund’s hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. so that an employee is present at all hours of operation to check-in students and answer questions.
Other changes include two new and larger office spaces that allow for regular support group sessions, an interactive suicide prevention training program for students and faculty and the new student health advisory board.
Sophomore Rachel Horne was among the students who spoke out about her negative experiences with the Health Center last Spring Term. Although she is aware of the changes being made in Knox’s mental health services, she has yet to return to the Counseling Center on campus.
“I’m glad they’ve taken the steps they have, but my sense of wariness hasn’t really gone away so I guess I’d say I’m cautiously open to going back to the Counseling Center if I were in a crisis, but overall I’m trying to take care of things on my own,” Horne said.
Horne remains in contact with a therapist via Skype and has yet to return to the Counseling Center.