The Magers Health and Wellness Center’s Counseling Department said they have seen an influx of students over the past couple of months, which has lead to longer waiting periods ranging from two weeks to nearly a month.
This backlog of patients has led to many students becoming dissatisfied with the counseling center.
According to the Director of the Counseling Center, Rhonda Lesley, the reason for the backlog is due to the stigma against mental health, counseling and therapy becoming less prominent each year. She said students at Missouri State, especially the younger generations, have become more curious about their mental health.
“People are more open to seeking therapy now more than ever,” Lesley said.
More students coming to the center means the department needed to hire more counselors. According to Lesley, two new counselors were hired with plans to hire another part-time counselor until the influx of students is alleviated.
Junior elementary education major Keigon Bruneteau, who has been waiting a month for a counseling session, said other counseling centers she has gone to have typically found placements much sooner.
“Sometimes within 24 hours, never more than a week, and they’ve had more availability than the counseling center,” Bruneteau said.
The staff tries to remain in communication with students until availability shows up or someone cancels.
“Their communication has been pretty good for the most part,” Bruneteau said. “They actually just called me again this morning to refer me to two other places.”
Despite the Counseling Center’s efforts, some students are still frustrated with the long wait time and feel like they are being forgotten.
“I’ve been on the waiting list for almost two weeks now,” freshman information technology student Jacob Munro said. “I have seen no indication that they are trying to move things along, and don’t see my appointment happening anytime soon.”
Unlike Brunteteau, Munro said he does not believe they have been effectively communicating.
“The staff hasn’t helped me yet, they told me they would call me,” Munro said. “When I tried to schedule an appointment, I filled out a questionnaire and then was sent off.”
Magers has referred students to other counseling centers, such as the Ozarks Counseling Center, Center City Counseling, Burrell Behavioral Health and the Jordan Valley Community Health Center. However, Lesley said there is only so much they can do, as these counseling centers are facing a similar problem of not having enough staff to meet the current demand.
“Around this time of year this influx always seems to happen and always seems to get bigger,” Lesley said. “It affects all counseling centers in town, not just ours.”
Lesley said as mental health has become an increasingly open issue, counseling centers around the country will have to adjust. The counseling center will eventually need to hire more staff.
“Though we’re backlogged, we’ll always see a student in crisis regardless,” Lesley said. “In cases of emergency appointments, the counseling center does offer emergency sessions available at almost any time.”