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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SHAC in short supply

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During Winter Term, some Carleton students have discovered that getting an appointment at Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) is not as easy as it seems. The wait-list for appointments is long and SHAC counselors have been struggling to find time for everyone.

“Indeed this is a very busy time for SHAC … we are at capacity,” said Leah Wellstone, SHAC psychotherapist.

Merit Lysne, Director of SHAC, said that “Ideally, when a student calls for an appointment to meet with a counselor, we are able to provide an initial 50-minute session usually within a week or less.”

This rule held for fall term and the beginning part of winter, but since third week of winter term, SHAC services have been in high demand, and the office has been forced to scale back some of its services. SHAC has switched from regular appointments to triage appointments which according to Lysne are “30-minute appointments which allow us to meet with the student to learn their current situation, assess for issues of risk, and determine needs and preferences for ongoing counseling.”

Additionally, Lysne said, “During our busiest times, those who are already engaged in counseling may be scheduled on an every-other week basis to make room to meet with new clients.”

Based on the need of the student, SHAC may also direct them to other treatment options, such as 24/7/365 telephone counseling and full-time counseling opportunities available in Northfield.

Lysne said that in addition to their regularly scheduled weekly clients, SHAC has been receiving requests for appointments from 25-30 new students each week, and this high demand has led to even longer wait times.

However, Lysne added that even during this time of high demand for SHAC services, students with “emergency/crisis situations are met same day or next day.”

Even with this high demand, some students still feel as though their needs are being met.

“Even though I have heard that SHAC is really busy, I have still received the help and support I need from them,” said one anonymous student.

High student demand is not the only reason for the high pressure put on SHAC this term. Usually, in addition to permanent counselors, SHAC has a temporary counselor who works part-time to assist the office during times of high demand. This term, however, the temporary counselor was unable to work for SHAC, leaving the office unprepared for the spike in appointment requests.

There are, however, solutions. SHAC is currently in the process of hiring another temporary counselor in order to help meet the heavy demands they are facing this term. During the fall, Dean Carolyn Livingston approved funding that would allow SHAC to hire a full time psychologist.

Lysne also said that even amongst the high demand of the term, students will never be denied an appointment.

“SHAC cares deeply about the mental health needs of our students,” Lysne said. “We are doing our best to meet students’ needs as we can, but we ask for patience and understanding as we work diligently to increase the SHAC counseling staff to meet the mental health needs of our campus.”

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