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University plans to expand staff and space in Counseling Center

Illustration by Devin Phillips

Recently, The Signal published an article detailing the growing student demand for counseling services at Georgia State and the counseling center’s struggles to meet those demands.

Since the publication of that article, Georgia State officials Jill Lee-Barber, senior director of Psychological and Health services, and Allison Calhoun-Brown, interim vice president of Student Affairs, have met to discuss how to meet the growing needs of the Counseling and Testing Center.

Here’s what they want students to know.

“The concerns raised about the waitlist for counseling are serious and administration is actively beginning the process of exploring the best way to expand services,” Lee-Barber said.

Previously, the total amount of money in reserve for counseling and health services was revealed to be $5.5 million. Both Lee-Barber and Calhoun-Brown recognize that the money in reserve can and should be used to hire more counselors and expand the Counseling Center.

“In the immediate, funds from the student health fee reserve will be used to increase contracted counseling services as much as the physical capacity of the CTC allows,” Lee-Barber said.

The pair also recognizes that there will be students in need of care that, even after hiring new counselors, may have a hard time getting into the Counseling Center.

“To accommodate students whose schedules do not match with available counselors and to expand services beyond the physical capacity of the CTC space, SkyTherapy services have been contracted to provide students access to counseling on a secure platform that allows them to meet with licensed counselors via the internet,” Lee-Barber said.

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Lee-Barber and Calhoun-Brown also provided a long-term goal of what they want the Counseling Center to be for students.

“The vision for counseling services is to provide access to culturally competent and evidence based short-term counseling for enrolled students for a range of presenting concerns,” Lee-Barber said.

While the Counseling Center is looking into changing and expanding, Lee-Barber assures that same day walk-in assessments will remain part of the counseling process here at Georgia State.

“The CTC will provide same-day assessment of concerns for students on a walk-in basis,” Lee-Barber said. “This is especially useful so that students who feel the need to speak with a professional get help the day they ask for it.”

While the CTC is in place to provide students with the support they need to keep a healthy mind while at Georgia State, the Counseling Center also recognizes that its resources aren’t unlimited.

“We acknowledge that the university cannot provide unlimited mental or physical health services for all types of presenting concerns. Some students will need more health care than can ethically be provided in a primary care outpatient setting. Those students will be provided with referrals and support to access the care they are assessed to need within the community,” Lee-Barber said.

The Counseling Center also wants to remind students that, “There are counselors on-call 24/7 to speak with any student who has urgent concerns and needs help planning to feel better.”