MALINI ADKINS, Staff Writer—Whisler has taken a shift since last year. For one, Whisler is rebranding themselves as the Wellness Center because they want to demonstrate that they offer more than just medical services (i.e. therapy). Nonetheless, there are other modifications to the system that the Wellness Center is currently trying to make.
Darlene Compton is the Associate Director of Counseling Services. She has worked at the Wellness Center for nearly six years. As the supervisor, she has confirmed that three counselors from last year have left their position at the Wellness Center.
“Last year was a very difficult year for the counseling staff—all of my team experienced stress and even some trauma from all that we’ve managed and supported on the campus…[However] My team gave tirelessly and always came together as a team supporting each other to not just ‘get through’ an incredibly difficult time for our campus, but also to lift each other up, and carry the burden when another teammate [couldn’t]. While staff members moved on to new ventures, it was because they were ready to write the next chapter in their lives,” Compton stated.
Since the Wellness Center was short-staffed at the beginning of the year, they made the decision to cut back on their outreach, so that they are meeting the demands of individual counseling.
“We’ll still do outreach, but not at the high level that we were doing last year,” Compton confirmed. “If you want counseling staff at an event then you need to keep in mind that you’re taking away their hours from individual counseling.”
According to Compton, there are approximately 6.5 counselors to every 2,100 at Denison. To put that in perspective, the standard for staff to student ratio is that there will be one counselor for every 1,000-1,500 students.
“Our staff to student ratio is remarkable,” Compton said. “But that doesn’t mean that there are times when students can’t get an appointment at the time that they want to.”
As of October 11, 200 students are receiving counseling at Denison. Contrast that to last year, 217 students were receiving counseling.
“This year, with that number, there were 3.5 clinicians. Last year, there were 5 clinicians,” Compton said. “So, it’s a pretty comparable number in terms of the number of students we’re seeing…. We break things down into intake appointments, follow-ups, walk-in hours, on-call crisis, and drug and alcohol. This year, with those numbers combined, equals 311 visits so far. Last year, those numbers were 342.”
Compton can’t emphasize enough the importance of each of us being responsible consumers of health services to ensure that resources are available to the maximum number of students.
Last year, amidst the increased demand for individual counseling services, there was a 20% no show/late cancellation rate for counseling appointments. This year already, they have experienced an 18% no show/late cancellation rate.
“We currently have slots allotted to treat 115 students per week. If 18% of students fail to attend or give proper notice, this is equivalent to 20.7 slots that open at the last minute, but that we cannot offer to other students because we are not given proper notice. Thus, the importance of emphasizing as a community we must be responsible for health consumers and responsible for how we use services on our own behalf and on our neighbor’s behalf. “
On October 15, the Wellness Center will be fully staffed. Compton went on to affirm that every one that is hired at the Wellness Center is licensed, and students that have been on their waitlist have been assigned a counselor.
Jessi Sheppard, The Wellness Center Client Service Representative, said, “Regarding wait time, there is no set wait time between appointments, as these times are determined between the student and clinician, based on the student’s needs and the availability of the clinician. In cases where the student’s needs are greater than what the Wellness Center can provide, we are happy to refer students to private practitioners in the Granville community.”
Additionally, they are officially bringing on three new clinicians to the team—Lindsay Buchanan, Eli Elyey, and Brad Brewer.
“I can tell you that we took the utmost care to recruit clinicians with varied and diverse experiences and clinicians who we thought would continue to rise to the standards that our team has identified, and continue to support students in evidenced-based, helpful and creative ways.”