After first semester in effect, CCSD walk-in policy shows early signs of success
The Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD), located on the second floor of the Perkins Student Center, has become an ever-growing resource for students struggling with mental health.
Following a surprising rise in attendance from students, the CCSD instituted a new policy allowing for walk-in style appointments last spring to give more students access to the services the center has to offer.
Brad Wolgast, director of the CCSD, said that the center has become a very busy place within the past 10 to 20 years, and over the past several years especially.
“The last two years we’ve seen about 2,000 students each year, and we’ve had 10,000 individual appointments,” Wolgast said. “We operate about as close to capacity as we can.”
Wolgast said that the first seven days of classes this year have seen the greater-than-usual numbers of students coming through the door.
“The gates are open wider than they used to be,” Wolgast said of the walk-in appointments. “Many more students are interested in seeking mental health care in 2019 than in 2009 or even in 2014. This generation has experienced a lower stigma and is more open to seeking help, which is awesome.”
The main problems, Wolgast said, lie in creating a system that allows more people to get in, and having enough staff to compensate for increasing demand for the CCSD’s services.
“It’s been probably a 20-year process starting from creating conversations, to talking about mental health and thinking about mental health from the perspective of ‘this is a pretty normal part of the college experience,’” Wolgast said.
According to Wolgast, about 10% of students visit the center every year, and over the course of a four-year undergraduate experience, around 20% to 25% of students visit.
According to Wolgast, the CCSD is in the process of creating easier access and more support groups for students of color and students of different identities so that there is an environment for people to feel comfortable in taking care of the particular needs they have.
The CCSD is also interested in building a new outreach plan that will be more “fun and focused on positive mental health,” and to “make it work with stigma reduction and create more excitement and smiles.”
The Healthy Minds Network, an organization committed to improving the mental and emotional health of young people, conducted a survey consisting of about 2,000 UD students. The survey yielded statistics that were at once hopeful and conflicting: Personal stigma toward seeking mental health sat at 6% while the perceived stigma toward seeking mental health sat at 47%. Even more hopeful, the University of Delaware ranked lower in both categories when compared to other institutions.
While the CCSD still struggles with issues related to the volume of patients and appointments, Wolgast said that those are problems that similar student counseling centers are facing. Nonetheless, the CCSD still aims to make incremental improvements to their facilities in order to administer their services to more students. The CCSD is aiming to continually grow its staff and even has plans of moving to Warner Hall by 2021.
“That would be a big improvement for us,” Wolgast said.
Rachel Drost, a sophomore exercise science major, has heard about the CCSD and is interested in seeing what steps the center will make to grow according to students’ needs.
“I think just getting it out there more that the center is here, and what its here for, and spreading the word will be very helpful,” Drost said.