On September 27, Student Senate unanimously approved a resolution in support of an expansion and relocation of Miami University Student Counseling Services (SCS). The legislation came just twelve days after the University’s first ever Mental Health Forum, where Associated Student Government gathered alongside the Panhellenic, National Panhellenic, and Interfraternity Councils to open a campus-wide discussion about the health and safety of Miami students.
According to Dr. John Ward, Student Counseling Services’ headquarters just off South Campus Avenue is becoming increasingly ill-equipped to respond to the daily needs of patients. “Some staff members need to share office space,” Ward explained. “There is not adequate space for group counseling, some hours there is not enough seats/space in the waiting room, and there is insufficient space for specialized sessions such as testing, biofeedback, or meditation.”
The 2015 Healthy Minds Survey determined that only forty-nine percent of students feel their emotional well-being is a priority at Miami, while only forty-two percent feel the University’s culture encourages free and open discussion about mental and emotional health. Most strikingly, during the 2015-2016 school year, the average waiting period for a patient’s first individual counseling session after their initial consultation nearly eclipsed eighteen days.
“Eighteen days is just too long, for someone who is seriously concerned about their mental health, to wait,” warned Off-Campus Senator Haley Olvera. Olvera worked alongside James Oaks (Secretary of On-Campus Affairs) and Christine Broda in crafting the resolution. Olvera, Oaks, and Broda sought to arm the Student Counseling Services’ already exceptional staff with the resources to produce exceptional results.
The legislation, titled “A Resolution Supporting an Expansion or Relocation of the Miami University Student Counseling Service”, declares Associated Student Government’s dedication to exploring ways in which Student Counseling Services can be improved. The resolution requests the formation of a special, exploratory committee to discuss the issue, consisting of the following individuals:
· James Oaks, ASG Secretary for On-Campus Affairs (Co-Author)
· Christine Broda, Student at Large (Co-Author)
· Dr. Gregory Crawford, President of Miami University
· Dr. Kip Alishio, Director of SCS
· Dr. Jennifer Young, Assistant Director for Outreach & Programming, SCS
· Dr. John Ward, Associate Director of SCS
· Matthew Frericks, Director for Auxiliary Construction & Planning
· John Seibert, Director of Planning, Architecture, and Engineering
· Two (2) Student Senators
With this legislation, Associated Student Government renews an ongoing commitment in standing firmly against mental illness at Miami University. “Having this in writing and having unanimous support from Senate is a huge step in the right direction,” said James Oaks, potential member of the proposed committee.
“An estimated 29.2 percent of students at Miami University are experiencing at least one significant mental health problem” said Ward. “While some students may get better without intervention, mental health services greatly improve their chances. Our hope is that this bill helps the SCS best position itself to meet the mental health needs of the students in the Miami community. “
Any Miami student concerned about their mental health is encouraged to contact Student Counseling Services at 513-529-4634 or by visiting their offices at 195 Center Drive. Additionally, the Associated Student Government office located in Armstrong Student Center room 2012 is always available for any student to discuss their personal wellbeing. Associated Student Government and Miami University are united in the fight against mental illness.