SUNY-ESF students express concern about accessibility to counseling services

Colin Davy | Assistant Photo Editor

During the 2016-17 academic year, SUNY-ESF students can receive medical attention from Crouse Medical Practice.

Students at SUNY-ESF are still uncertain about the adequacy of counseling services at the school, after SUNY-ESF transitioned away from using Syracuse University’s Health Services at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester.

State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry students can no longer use Syracuse University Health Services or the SU Counseling Center. SUNY-ESF President Quentin Wheeler said in February that the switch was made because there was an increase demand for health services from students.

At the time of the transition, SU was seeing approximately 8 percent of the SUNY-ESF student population for counseling, said Ruth Larson, the director of SUNY-ESF Counseling Services.

While students at SUNY-ESF can receive medical treatment and health care from the Crouse Medical Practice during the 2016-17 academic year, the college also created the SUNY-ESF Counseling Services, which now employs two full-time therapists to offer counseling to students.

The new counseling center, however, is still having difficulty keeping up with the demands of the student body, multiple SUNY-ESF students said.

Sophomore biotechnology major Hayley Sussman, a SUNY-ESF student who is a member of the SU student mental health advocacy group Active Minds, expressed concern that there are not enough on-campus therapists to see students.

“It’s a lot harder for students to continue getting health care, especially living on campus,” she said.

Jimmy Harlin, a junior environmental studies major at SUNY-ESF, said when he visited the counseling center in late October, one therapist couldn’t see him on a regular basis. After that, Harlin said he was referred to health services in the community. He said he has had a hard time finding a therapist who will see him in Syracuse.

Erica Van Althuis, one of several students on the SUNY-ESF Student Health Advisory Committee, which a part of the SUNY-ESF Undergraduate Student Association, said the transition away from SU’s Health Services is affecting counseling at the college.

“Accessibility to the health care providers is an issue currently — we are hoping to get students transportation to health care providers off campus,” she said.

Anne Lombard, SUNY-ESF’s dean for student affairs, said in a statement that the health services transition has come “with many challenges.”

“We anticipated many of those challenges and were able to address them before the fall semester began,” Lombard said. “If any of our students have concerns about the transition in services, I hope they will come to us and talk with us about it.”

Lombard also said the new counseling services have served 140 students so far.

Health care accessibility on college campuses is a common issue, as college health services have had difficulty keeping up with the large number of mental health disorders students have, according to a report by the Journal of College Counseling. Twenty-four percent of college students have clinically significant levels of anger, anxiety and depression, per the report.

“They are great therapists — we just need more,” said Karley O’Connor, a sophomore environmental studies major at ESF.


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