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The Blue & Gray Press | July 26, 2017

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UMW considers expanding mental health services on campus

UMW considers expanding mental health services on campus

By PAIGE WALTON

As the University of Mary Washington grows in size and enrollment, the attention given to mental health care is changing.

As Dr. Tevya Zukor, director of the Talley Center for counseling services puts it, “student success is more than just academic.” With the growing population and needs of students, it seems an increase in the mental health services on campus could benefit the student body.

Mental health is paramount in the overall health and well-being of an individual. Developing appropriate outlets for stress and anxiety, utilizing effective coping techniques and many other strategies are some of the benefits that could be gained through proper counseling.

According to their website, the Talley Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and has nine staff members. With a campus of more than 4,000 students, the needs of students may be difficult to meet with this current staff.

“We simply don’t believe that there are enough resources for the entire student body… [and] are looking to get an expansion in hours of the psychiatrist and/or more counselors to better suit the student population,” said Student Government Association president Hannah Tibbett.

In response to the growing need, Zukor said that “the University has been receptive to our data and the information has been shared with the highest levels of the administration” going on to say that while “one necessary component [of expanding services] will have to be additional counseling staff, it is not the only solution to this complex problem.”

The leaders of UMW  are actively engaged in pursuing more extensive and expansive mental health services may be a considerable step in the right direction. The culminating efforts of the university may need to be significant in all areas in order for the picture to be fully realized.

“The Division of Student Affairs supports students in making the most of their college experience,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Juliette Landphair. “Serious mental health challenges may prevent students from achieving their academic mission. My colleagues and I therefore support efforts to expand services for students, including support for the Talley Center.”

A topic of conversation that was once thought of as “taboo,” the increase in mental health awareness and familiarity has students speaking up.

In some cases, mental illness can be compared to physical ailments as well.

“Mental illness is just as bad as physical damage… [and] people always focus on injuries that we can see while the ones that people feel are overlooked,” said freshman Yasmeen Alhinty.

Through the combined efforts of students and faculty, the University could expect to see an expansion of mental health services in the near future.  Zukor mentions plans to expand the online resources available on the counseling center’s website this summer, such as the development of resource pages that can guide students to more information, assistance for students in utilizing self-help strategies and providing access to smartphone apps that promote wellness and mental health.

Zukor reiterates that the resource pages do not substitute counseling, but can be available beyond counseling services hours.

“While these increased resources are not intended to be a substitute for the counseling provided by the Talley Center, it will serve as an additional supplement to support students during times of stress 24 hours a day, seven day per week,” Zukor said.

Editors’ note: A previous version of the story did not attribute Yasmeen Alhinty to her quote. The error was corrected in this version. – Emily Hollingsworth and Sarah Grammer.

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