University Counseling Services (UCS) has seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in emergency visits this academic year. They have also seen the greatest number of visits and emergency visits this January than in previous Januaries.
UCS has continued to see a trend of more student-seeking counseling services in the last year. Over 1,300 students have visited UCS since September, which is up 8 to 11 percent in the past couple years, according to Director of UCS Craig Burns.
“Some of the increase in ongoing therapy appointments may be accounted for by the fact that we have increased our staffing this year, allowing us to see more people for more sessions than in previous years,” Burns said in an email.
UCS added two new staff members in March, after there was an increase in demand for counseling services on campus.
Burns said the increase in staff has not played a part in the increase of emergency visits, however.
“We believe that there is a combination of decreased stigma to seeking professional help along with an increased awareness of the service, as well as a heightened climate of tension and anxiety both locally and nationally which influences people’s sense of well-being,” he said.
A visit is considered an emergency if the student has an issue that cannot wait until the next available appointment. Psychological emergency clinicians (PECs) are available all year 24/7 to speak with students who need immediate counseling. The PECs are located in the UCS office during business hours and are available at the Boston College Police Department or University Health Services offices after hours.
Students who utilize emergency visits range from extreme cases of psychotic breaks, which are rare, to students feeling acute panic or anxiety that feel that they cannot wait until an appointment becomes available.
When asked if UCS has seen a spike in visitors since President Donald Trump’s inauguration and his executive order limiting immigration, Burns said it has been too short of a window to tell. He has noticed that the political events have been a common topic discussed during counseling sessions.
“Our way of responding to it is being open to all students around any form of distress—whether it’s an emergency or an ongoing consultation,” Burns said.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor