As student demand for mental health counseling rises across the nation, Boston College’s University Counseling Services has struggled to keep up and has found itself understaffed and overbooked. Recently, the University announced that two new full-time staff members will be added to the services, a positive step previously commended by The Heights. Yet there is another part of the effort to curb this influx of students seeking UCS assistance, while also attempting to relieve the burden on counselors: the Resiliency Project. The goal of the project is to increase the resilience of students against the regular stresses and obstacles of college life. This is meant to be accomplished by working with the BC faculty so that it can better handle the emotional needs of students, and by developing educational programs to help students become more resilient.
While this project does well in educating faculty members on how to better deal with the emotional difficulties of students, it also sends a dangerous message to students. The idea that students aren’t working hard enough to stay emotionally strong or that their mental issues are byproducts of a lack of resilience can be harmful to students suffering from serious mental issues. Deciding to seek counseling help is a difficult choice for many students, who would not be willing to reveal their difficulties and personal problems to a stranger. Adding another layer of doubt to this can be harmful to these students.
This problem goes beyond just BC. Universities across the nation are attempting to deal with increased numbers of students seeking counseling services. According to the 2014 National Survey of College Counseling Centers, 26 percent of schools that participated in the survey increased counseling staff, while 29 percent increased part-time counselors and 64 percent increased the time devoted to training faculty and staff to respond to troubled students. These results demonstrate the difficulty many schools have faced in attempting to bolster their counseling services.
BC is in the same situation as these schools and should focus on what can be done to meet increased demand through more counselors and decreased wait times. The Resiliency Project is a temporary solution, not a permanent fix, to the mental health problems on campus. BC should take the lead among universities in expanding counseling services and rising to meet the demand. This will foster a healthy environment on campus and help the University retain students over their four years here.
Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Staff