Morgan students worry about mental health as counseling center lowers available sessions
(MSU Spokesman) Morgan State University’s counseling center lowered the number of available sessions per student for the fall 2021 semester.
Previously 12 sessions per semester, the number of sessions available to students has gone down to six.
Located in Holmes Hall, the counseling center acts as a resource and safe space for students. Some students even look forward to their weekly sessions and use them as a form of self-care.
According to the counseling center’s website, its mission is to “provide a range of psychological and counseling services to meet the mental health and developmental needs of Morgan students.”
Carrying out this mission may prove to be difficult with the new restriction on the center’s session availability.
Kevin Banks, vice president of student affairs, revealed that the decision to lower session availability came not only from lack of counseling staff, but also to follow the model of other universities.
“A lot of places only have 6 sessions a semester, 12 for the year. So that’s kind of a model that we were looking at just on a temporary basis. Soon as we bring the [new] director on, he or she will provide some guidance on what they think is the best model for us moving forward,” said Banks.
Banks added that if a student continues to need counseling past their allotted sessions due to a mental health crisis, they will not be turned away by the counseling center.
He stated the center expects to be fully staffed by January in order to meet the demand of students, which has grown significantly this year.
“This is our largest year of 1300 [new] students. We need to have a more personalized approach, but you’ve got to have the staff to be able to do that so I’m hoping that we can fill all of our vacancies by the end of this semester,” said Banks.
He hopes that going forward Morgan students will continue to utilize the counseling center as mental health is important.
Some students expressed concern for the emotional well-being of the Morgan student body following this announcement, feeling that it is unfair and may prove detrimental.
Junior sociology major Jennifer Mugerwa believes that seeing the positive emotional effects of counseling can be a slow process.
“I honestly feel like counseling, therapy [in general] kind of takes time to realize the positive, negative or whatever type of effect [it has] on you,” said Mugerwa.
Mugerwa added that during her freshman year she needed more than six sessions to “open up” to her assigned counselor and feel comfortable discussing certain topics.
She also described the counseling center’s choice to limit session availability as “unfair” and believes that the center could partner with an outside organization of therapists to better meet the demand of students in counseling.
Other Morgan students like Pamela Osseyi, sophomore psychology major, believe the decision to limit sessions could be dangerous for students in need of immediate counseling attention.
“They [the counseling center] should be adequately staffed to serve those that may be in critical need,’ Osseyi said.
Osseyi proposed that at least one counseling session should be available to students every week each semester.
A representative of The Spokesman reached out to Dr. Ralph Piper, interim director of the counseling center, but he declined to speak with the publication.