Editorial: Students’ Mental Health Is in Peril. Pitt, Help Us.
by Madison Jarnot
A recent survey by telehealth provider TimelyMD found that college students are more concerned about COVID-19 than ever before, and nine out of 10 students believe that college campuses are facing “a full-blown mental health crisis.” 70% of students surveyed said they’re experiencing emotional distress due to the pandemic.
Pitt-Greensburg is no different. So, where should these students turn?
Most would recommend counseling, but the truth is that it’s just not feasible for the vast majority of Pitt students. Many of us don’t have health insurance, and we can’t afford to pay tuition plus out-of-pocket payments for mental health treatment. And Pitt-Greensburg’s Counseling Center is woefully understaffed.
As of Fall 2021, there are 1,316 students enrolled at our campus. That means that probably 1,000 of us are struggling with our mental health at the moment, based on TimelyMD’s survey statistics (and I would argue that’s a conservative estimate).
The Counseling Center has three staff members, including the director. This isn’t even enough counselors to handle students’ needs prior to the pandemic, and considering how many of us need help now, it’s laughable to think that the Counseling Center could adequately assist students.
But it’s not the Counseling Center’s fault. They’re overworked, and I’m sure they spend hours every day agonizing over how students are doing.
They see that we’re struggling. They can’t clone themselves to make more counselors or add extra hours onto the day for more appointments. What are they to do?
Pitt-Greensburg students, as well as students across the University system, have made it clear that we are barely surviving the stresses of the pandemic, let alone the stresses of finishing our degrees.
GoodTherapy and other mental health organizations estimate that a good caseload for most counseling professionals is 25 to 30 patients. If even 10% of our students seek help at the Counseling Center, each of the counselors would average a caseload of about 44 students.
If half of our students sought counseling, each counselor’s caseload would be around 220 patients. This is still 30% less than the number of students that are likely facing mental health crises.
We absolutely need more full-time counselors on campus. Part of our tuition goes to funding the Health and Counseling Centers. The administration has the money and the means to hire more mental health professionals.
Our counselors shouldn’t have to take on a caseload of more than 30 students. There’s no way for them to truly help us when they’re balancing so many patients.
The University needs to properly invest in students’ mental health, or there aren’t going to be any students left.
A previous version of this story stated an incorrect waitlist length for the Counseling Center. Currently, the Counseling Center has appointments available for new students within a week. We regret the error.
Students can schedule an appointment at the Counseling Center by calling 724-836-9870 or via email by contacting GbgCounseling@pitt.edu. More information about the Counseling Center, as well as a list of emergency contacts for students in crisis, is available on Pitt-Greensburg’s website.
Other stories from volume 16, issue 1:
Greensburg House Catches Fire
Pitt-Greensburg Hires New Theatre Faculty
Local Animal Shelters Face Shortages
Students Celebrate Black History Month
Pitt-Greensburg Hosts “Therapy Dog Tuesdays”
VOICES Series Features Appalachian Authors
Side-by-Side: Who’s the Best Spider-Man?
Lost in Space: “Nemesis” Review
5 Anticipated Games of Spring 2022
Which Video Game Console Should You Buy?
Stream Your Heart Out: “The Witcher” Season 2
Stream Your Heart Out: “Royal Rumble” 2022
Read Your Heart Out: “Daughter of the Moon Goddess”
This is such an important issue — and the math says it all. Thank you.