Counseling services rebooted, more improvements to come

News Reporter

University officials are excited to see improvements in the Texas State Counseling Center after an overhaul of their programs.  

The counseling center’s administrators are shifting their focus to the Round Rock campus. Faculty senators asked Kathlyn Dailey, director of mental and clinical health at Texas State, to explain the changes she has been making in the main campus counseling center during their Wednesday meeting. 

Dailey is excited to see the counseling center’s services improve after one semester of being overhauled.

The senate has been concerned “for years” because of reports that students experience trouble when trying to schedule counseling services, said Michel Conroy, faculty senate chair. 

Dailey agreed and said students who deserved urgent care and immediate attention were previously asked to wait. Policies and resources did not best serve those in need. 

Dailey said the center’s staff has been working hard to serve students by remaining accessible and providing the most immediate mental healthcare possible. 

“We recognize that in the past there have been some shortcomings to counseling students,” Dailey said. “I’m excited that we’ve started making resources to provide care a priority.”

Demand for mental health care on campus has risen, she said. Increased enrollment is one factor, but a changing society plays an even bigger role. 

“The need is trending upward,” Dailey said. “We’re getting a significant increase in students who have a history of receiving psychiatric care, and we’re trying to keep up with that level of care—the level they’re used to.”

Now students are given questions that classify them as “emergency,” “urgent” or “first consultation” when they ask to schedule an appointment, Dailey said.

Students are seen at their earliest convenience if classified as “emergency” or “urgent,” Dailey said. “First consultation” patients are asked to call the morning they would like to meet, and their names and student IDs are added to the receptionist’s database. 

“This way, the receptionist knows this student has called before and will give them whatever appointment works best for the student,” Dailey said. “The goal is never to have them call a third time.”

Two open counselor positions were filled fall 2014. Another counselor was hired in anticipation for the spring semester’s changes.

“This means we now have 11 full-time clinical staff, two full-time post-doctoral staff, three doctoral interns and three part-time practicum students,” Dailey said. 

No counseling center is available on the Round Rock campus. However, Dailey said counselors often have phone consultations with students there who need service.

“We also meet with Round Rock students both at the Round Rock campus or the San Marcos campus,” she said. 

However, full expansion to Round Rock is needed, Dailey said.

“By the fall, we would like to begin using the clinical rooms already available (at the Round Rock campus) and hire contractors until we can build more (facilities) in Round Rock and hire our own counselors,” Dailey said. 

Barbara Covington, science senator, said the fall semester will not be soon enough and wants to know what the counseling center will do in the meantime.

“(Fall 2015 is) two semesters away,” Covington said. “How do we help students in need now?” 

Dailey said the center is currently operating on a case-by-case basis.

Joanne Smith, vice president of Student Affairs, said the demand for care is not as high in Round Rock as on the main campus. 

“We’re meeting the demands as best we can, and as soon as the fall (semester), we will have a better solution,” Smith said. “However, we can’t just make the space or find the counselors—pay for that—when we don’t have a sense of the demand yet. We’ll start adding people and see if the availability spikes demand and go from there.” 

Faculty senators thought the response was optimistic but are concerned about services in Round Rock. 

“It’s a short fix,” Covington said. “Not necessarily the soundest fix, but it is a fix. I think they’re making end roads. It’s better than what we had.”