Stories of the Mind, a new documentary series from PBS, will be screened April 5 by University Counseling Services (UCS) prior to its release. This program is meant to show students the difficulties of mental illness and work to decrease the stigma surrounding it, something that the Undergraduate Government of Boston College has been advocating for this past year. UCS and other mental health initiatives at Boston College have received considerable attention recently as appointments with counseling services increase and students advocate for increased mental health resources. Screening this series is an effective program that provides a necessary platform for increased awareness of mental health.
The screening comes soon after the announcement that UCS will be adding two more full-time staff members: a staff psychologist and a clinical postdoctoral fellow. There has been a considerable call for these new positions, which were made possible through both University funding and an anonymous donation.
This increase in counseling staff is much needed, as demand for counseling services has increased by 25 percent over the past three years. The waiting period for an appointment with UCS can be up to two weeks during busy times of the year—without increased staffing, this shows no sign of changing.
As use of these services consistently increases, it has been abundantly clear that more staff members are a necessity if UCS is to keep up with demand. The addition of two new full-time staff members is a good step toward this, but there is still more that should be done.
Thomas McGuiness, associate vice provost and previous director of UCS, has said, “You could double the staff and they’d still be busy,” in reference to UCS. In the future, available funds should be allocated to this service, as demand shows no signs of decreasing. BC is just now entering a new master plan cycle, as a committee investigates University needs and determines fund-raising goals.
Part of this new investigation is the University Student Planning Initiative (USPI), a group meant to determine which parts of student life require increased funding. USPI should take into account that mental health remains a prevalent issue on campus and future fundraising efforts should specify funds for UCS and other mental health programs.
By designating funds for these programs BC would demonstrate engagement with students and would help provide much-needed resources for an understaffed UCS and the students who are increasingly seeking its resources. Students and student groups should continue to advocate for this cause and push for programs such as the documentary screening as well as further increases in staff size.
Featured Image by Abigail Paulson and Kelsey McGee