Student mental health leaders share perspective on new care network

Student+mental+health+leaders+share+perspective+on+new+care+network

Kelly McHale

Following the implementation of the new Student Care Network this year, mental health leaders on campus continue efforts to not only inform students of the accessibility of resources but also to communicate the details of what exactly those resources include. Student leaders from Active Minds, VSG’s Student Health and Wellness Committee, and the Mental Health Roundtable spoke with the Hustler about the challenges and benefits of this new system of care.

The Office of Student Care Coordination (OSCC), located in Sarratt 100, was created to assist students in navigating the care network and providing guidance as to which resources individuals can utilize to best meet their needs.

“I think that the addition of the OSCC provides a central point of access that will help students take advantage of the full scope of resources available to them that they probably wouldn’t have ever known existed before,” said Sara Conley, co-president of Active Minds.  

At Active Minds’ first general body meeting of the semester on Oct 3, representatives from the different parts of the Student Care Network educated students in attendance on the types of services offered, including how to access resources through the OSCC. While several of the student leaders thought the OSCC allowed for a more comprehensive network, there are also concerns that it adds an extra step in the process for students seeking timely care.

“I think that the OSCC does ultimately help students get better care for themselves, but the incorporation of a new office that you have to see to discuss a personalized care plan before making an appointment with wherever you will ultimately be receiving care does result in an increase in total time spent before receiving care,” said Cassidy Alla, co-president of Active Minds. “I would especially change the fact that an appointment with a Student Care Coordinator is a mandatory step before making a first appointment with the UCC – the OSCC should be an optional service for exploring additional resources, not a barrier to psychological care.”

Other areas for potential change that student leaders identified include shortening wait times and communicating information about the new network to students.

“We found that some student leaders don’t even know what the Student Care Network is about,” said Alexis Pramberger, president of the Mental Health Round Table and member of VSG’s Student Health and Wellness Committee. “They don’t know how to navigate it and that’s a huge discrepancy.”

Wait times present an additional barrier to service, as this ongoing concern caused student leaders to identify increased staff as an opportunity for change within the new network.  

“With the influx of services, there have often been longer wait times,” said Josie Roth, Chair of VSG’s Student Health and Wellness Committee. “However, increasing the number of staffers can definitely help alleviate some of these issues.”

Communicating the range of services and what exactly is included in the new network has been on ongoing effort. In addition to the UCC, CSW, and Student Health Center, the Student Care Network emphasizes a variety of resources, including cultural and identity, emotional, financial, sexual, spiritual and social ones.

“I think they’ve done a good job of communicating the new network especially to first-years during orientation, but with upperclassmen it may be more difficult because there have been significant changes since last year,” said Roth. “Having all the information online is definitely helpful with increasing accessibility to resources.”

While there are challenges and growing pains with the new network, both Roth and Pramberger emphasized the importance of student feedback and the administration’s willingness to listen to students.

“There are a lot of good people working on this topic and its not just a few good student leaders; it’s people on the ground who are trying to help their friends out and people in the administration who genuinely care,” said Pramberger. “And it’s something we’re all working on together so if anyone wants to reach out to me please do. I could put you in touch with people or just feel free to reach out to anyone you know–it can make a difference.”