A few students on the Hamline campus felt ostracized by the Counseling Center in the recent past. Here, Health and Counseling Services provides information to help the Hamline community understand what services they are capable of providing. Many of the limitations Health Services faces largely have to do with space availability.
“We only have enough exam rooms for one provider to be working at a time,” Jodi Metz, Director of Health Services, said.
Recently there has been an increase of students seeking help for mental health issues. According to Hussein Rajput, Director of Counseling Services, the number of students attending counseling on Hamline’s campus has nearly doubled since 2006. In that time, the counseling center has gone from three counselors to five to help meet student demand.
At Hamline University there is a 757:1 student to counselor ratio. This in comparison to other colleges is lower on the spectrum. The University of St. Thomas, for instance, has a 1351:1 ratio. This data is not the ratio of students who attend or seek out counseling to counselors and does not indicate student demand.
In regards to hiring more counselors and lowering the ratio, Rajput said, “We have outgrown the space we are in. There literally isn’t a space to house any additional counselors whether that would be part-time contract people, or full-time new staff.”
Because of the vintage of Hamline’s campus there are not many spaces that meet the requirements needed for a health and counseling center. This means that to gain more counselors, there would need to be major renovations, or a new space built for Health and Counseling Services.
Hamline University is not the only place in the area that provides counseling. There are many reasons why some students want to see a counselor off campus.
“There are people who have concerns, where they for sure want to see a counselor every single week, like year-round, and never take breaks, and be able to do that for multiple years. Off campus is going to be the best place for them.” Katy Rimstad, a full-time counselor at Hamline University said.
Hamline provides all students with 10 sessions per school year, but Rimstad explained that most students do not need more than 10. “The number of times people need counseling, I think the average is about five, or six,” Rimstad said. However, if a student felt they needed more sessions the counselor would be able to help them, either with attaining more sessions through a petition, or helping them find resources off campus.
“Our big thing is that we do not want anyone to ever feel turned away,” Rimstad said. “We want everyone to feel like they are welcomed, and that they are important and they matter and that they should seek services here.”
Every day at 3 p.m. there are slots for emergency sessions. That being said, Counseling Services requests that all students call ahead of time to alert them that they will be needing that time slot.
Around finals and times of student stress the counseling center has an increase in student need. This means students may be put on an initial waitlist where it could take one to three days to be seen for an initial appointment, and one to two weeks for a set scheduled appointment.
“Both individually, and as a group, we are always looking at the waiting list and seeing if we are able to take people off of the waiting list,” Rimstad said.
In the 2018 Counseling and Health Client Satisfaction Survey, 90 percent of students said that they agreed/strongly agreed to the question “I was able to get timely access to an initial counseling appointment.” This statistic does not take into consideration those who did not take the survey.
Metz commented on the misconceptions of Health Services. “People have always thought of [us] as a school nurse,” Metz said. “That’s not what we are. We are actually a real licenced provider clinic.” This means that calling with appointment is best when seeking medical help.
It is preferred that students schedule appointments so the staff members can anticipate the students needs.
However, if a student is facing a health crisis, Metz explained that “Summer, who’s a medical assistant at the front desk, and/or Jamie who is an RN and one of the providers are all going to be here and we would either schedule that person for an appointment based on the acuity of the need, and/or triage them to resources that are available in the nearby community”
Another misconception is that Health and Counseling Services does not bill third-party insurance companies. Other than the fee that is included in students’ tuition, students and their insurance will not be billed for the services that are provided. Students can make appointments to ask medical questions, as well as seek treatment options.
Health and Counseling Services can be found in Manor Hall Room 16. Appointments can be made in person, or by phone call at (651) 523-2204.