The band aid for Chapman counseling staffing problem

Some Chapman students whose issues aren’t considered pressing don’t always necessarily get turned away from SPCS, but they seldom go knowing they could be taking the opportunity away from others. Photo by Danielle Konovitch

Chapman University is compensating for the surprisingly low student-to-counselor ratio by taking a new holistic approach to advance health and wellness for students.  

The Student Government Association and Student Engagement are expanding the amount and frequency of recreational fitness sessions on campus, and a newly-hired full-time Program Coordinator for Student Engagement will start spearheading itineraries this summer, said Assistant Director of Student Engagement Mike Keyser. SGA President Mitchell Rosenberg is meeting with senior advisors with a formal proposal to double the size of the fitness center, according to Keyser.  

“We’re trying to connect working out to more than just looking good,” Keyser said. “Fitness satisfies social and physical needs as well as it revitalizes students’ mental health.”

As of spring 2018, Student Psychological Counseling Services (SPCS) balanced a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:1310. This ratio includes both undergraduate and graduate students on Chapman’s main campus as well as the Rinker Health Science Campus, according to Director of SPCS Jeanne M. Walker, Ph.D. The counselor-to-undergraduate student ratio was roughly 1:980 this spring, according to Walker.  

Student Psychological Services has recently hired two new full time equivalent counselors, one of which is specifically for the Rinker Health Science Campus, so the ratios are expected to be better next year, Walker said.  

“The new model counseling services is grappling with will assist students on a need basis and on the level of the crisis,” Keyser said. “The new staff will help manage the amount of people and I anticipate that the students who need less specialized attention will lean toward our new upcoming fitness programs and events.”  

More yoga on the lawn wouldn’t help the issues a lot of students have, said junior public and advertising major Meagan Donovan.  

Donovan stopped utilizing Chapman’s counseling services for generalized anxiety because she felt she was taking the opportunity away from someone else.  

“No one ever explicitly said I couldn’t be seen, or I couldn’t be helped,” Donovan said. “But it made me uncomfortable from the beginning knowing there is a waitlist of people who many need more help than I do.” 

Talking it out would be the most useful way to cope with anxiety, Donovan said.  

“I like kayaking and yoga on the lawn, but these activities wouldn’t necessarily help the issues I was being seen for,” Donovan said.  

A residence advisor who wishes to remain anonymous to not jeopardize her position said she had been turned away from the counseling center.

“I was nowhere near suicidal but in desperate need to talk to someone, and basically they told me they can’t see me within the week unless I’m about to kill myself or harm someone else,” the student said. “They said to seek counseling elsewhere if possible because they won’t be able to see me for a few weeks.”

By the time the student finally received an email a month later saying she could make an appointment, she didn’t need to talk to anyone. 

Chapman’s Student Psychological Counseling Services Office didn’t respond to request for comment by deadline.  

As of spring 2018, Student Psychological Counseling Services (SPCS) balanced a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:1310. Photo by Danielle Konovitch

Danielle Konovitch

Leave a Reply