Winter Term will be the first full term the Counseling Center has three full-time staff members. The increase has allowed them to offer more outreach programs and appointments.
The Counseling Center’s recent Eating Disorder Screening Day brought in around 10 participants, compared to Depression Screening Day’s 61 last term.
“That’s expected when it comes to eating screening, because individuals might not feel ready to come to talk to an individual about that. And so we were very thrilled with the depression one . . . we were also happy with the eating because we did get to talk to individuals who needed support,” Interim Director of Counseling Services Janell McGruder explained.
During the week, the center also reserved intake spots for those concerned about eating disorders, but who could not go to the screening day.
Outreach efforts overall have increased, as the Counseling Center tries to make sure students know they can use it if they feel the need to, and are comfortable doing so. McGruder has also implemented outreach programming for faculty as well.
“We went from, pretty much, zero to a 100 with outreach pretty quickly. And I think that’s good. Students are coming to events and those students are then turning into clients when they need to,” Vice President for Student Development Anne Ehrlich said.
Some students have been worried about delays between scheduling and when they could get an appointment. McGruder said the center currently does not have a waitlist, but that openings and student schedules need to align. There may also be limited openings if a student wants to meet with a specific counselor.
Crisis appointments are always available if students feel they need to talk to someone, but intake and counseling sessions can take longer to fit into the schedule. To help this, intake sessions have been cut down to 30 minutes. The center has also started to offer 30 minute consultation appointments for students who have questions about counseling as well.
“If you call and make a dentist appointment, it takes a couple days to get in, but if you have a toothache right then, you can get in right then at that moment,” McGruder said.
The center added counselor in Student Development Cody Maddock in late September, opening up more appointment times and opportunities for outreach.
The expanded staff now uses Titanium Schedule, a new electronic medical records system. Ehrlich suggested using Titanium Schedule, which she implemented while working at Woodbury University before coming to Knox. A donor funded Titanium Schedule at Knox, but Ehrlich had originally planned to have the college pay for it.
“It’s very inexpensive, actually, and makes a big impact,” Ehrlich said.
McGruder believes that the changes have been beneficial, as more students have been utilizing the center. Over the rest of Winter Term and in the following terms McGruder wants to have the center start reaching out more to marginalized demographics on campus.
Students have been using the outreach programs though, and have shown initiative in taking care of their mental health.
“Students are being proactive,” she said.
In his time here, Maddock has gained a similar opinion of the students.
“I have enjoyed it immensely; the students are great,” said Maddock, “I’ve been impressed with how actively involved Knox students are with themselves, with the community. It’s really been a joy to get to know the campus and the spirit of Knox.”