Editorial: Iowa State needs more counselors

Editorial Board

As we have said before, focusing on one’s mental health is important for everyone, including college students. One way for students to take care of themselves mentally is through counseling. 

The Center for Collegiate Mental Health reported in their 2015 10-year summary report that today’s college students are utilizing campus counseling services more than any other generation. 

This isn’t to say that this generation is more mentally unhealthy than other generations, leading them to seek out these services, but that students today are just more likely to reach out for help.

The stigma behind mental health and going to counseling is beginning to diminish and it’s now more socially acceptable to see a counselor. Having cheap and easy access to counseling in college also makes it more likely for students to use these services. 

At Iowa State, students who are looking for mental health services can either go to Student Counseling Services or Thielen Student Health Center. Any of Thielen’s providers will see students with mental health concerns and will refer them either to Student Counseling Services, their staff psychiatrist or one of two mental health practitioners. 

At Iowa State’s Student Counseling Services, there are 14 clinical staff employees plus three mental health professionals at Thielen. With 36,321 students on campus this year that’s a 1:2,137 professional to student ratio. 

The International Association of Counseling Services recommends that universities have a counselor to student ratio of 1:1,000 – 1:1,500.

Granted, not every student at Iowa State will need or decide to speak with an on-campus counselor, but what if they did? There would be no way that all students would be able to be helped with the current ratio. 

Iowa State did increase tuition by $12.50 for each student this past year to go towards hiring more mental health professionals on campus, but the ratio is still off. 

With more and more students needing the services that student counseling provides, there needs to be more opportunity for students to actually receive these services. The way to do this is to expand the Student Counseling Services and hire more counselors.