East Carolina University’s Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD) is currently booked through the rest of the fall semester, leaving students having to wait until the spring semester to schedule regular appointments outside of crisis screenings.
Valerie Kisler-Van Reede, the director of the CCSD, said the counseling center has 25 service providers for students to meet with which includes staff and graduate counselors in training. She said each of the providers work a different amount of hours a week.
Reede said she has let ECU’s administration know the CCSD is “very busy,” but declined to comment on who she spoke to.
The International Association of Counseling Services, which ECU’s CCSD is accredited by, recommends the student to counselor ratio is one counselor to 1,500 students, Reede said.
Reede said the CCSD has two counselor vacancies it is in the process of filling. She said with the two vacancies, ECU’s counselor to student ratio is different than the recommended numbers.
“When a student has a screening appointment and they schedule a follow up, yes at different times of the semester there can be a significant wait. Typically, then we look at other services that they can attend in the meantime and if that wait is not suitable for the student we can again refer them out to other places,” Reede said. “The student is of course always able to use the crisis services in the meantime.”
Reede said the CCSD can refer students to other resources. She said some referred services are not always free which differs from ECU’s counseling center in which the services provided are covered by students’ tuition and fees.
Other locations students may be referred to include the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, located at 612 East Tenth Street, the McClammy Counseling & Research Lab, located in 118A Ragsdale Hall, Navigate Counseling Clinic, located at 4410 Health Sciences Building and the ECU PASS Clinic, located in Rawl Building room 311.
Each student who comes in to the CCSD is talked to about what is an appropriate follow-up for their situation, Reede said. Students are able to learn more about the services offered by the CCSD or locations they may be referred to on the department’s website or flyers.
“We do not have any new appointments available (as of November), they do come open as students cancel, so students can still call and see if we have appointments available, otherwise we are encouraging students to come in through crisis so, again, we can connect them with appropriate resources,” Reede said.
Reede said if a student feels they are at risk they are able to come to the CCSD’s “crisis hours,” Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., where they will be connected with the “appropriate resources.” Students are able to walk-in and meet with a crisis screener, she said.
If a student feels they are not able to keep themselves safe they should go to the hospital, Reede said.
“As it’s true at most counseling centers across the country, we can certainly use more positions to try to provide counseling services in support to students seeking counseling help on campus,” Reede said.
There have been five reported ECU students deaths during the fall 2019 semester. Reede said the counseling center offers a grief support group in addition to crisis appointments for students who may have been affected.
Virginia Hardy, ECU’s vice chancellor of Student Affairs said the most recently reported student death was due to juvenile diabetes. She said she did not have information regarding the four student deaths that occurred off-campus, including some of which were speculated to be suicides.
The other four reported student deaths happened off-campus, Hardy said. When a student dies on-campus, the ECU community is notified, she said.
“I have not received any confirmation with what happened with the previous individuals,” Hardy said.
Hardy said she recommends students living in residence halls should notify their resident advisors and hall coordinators if they witness or hear about a student demonstrating harmful actions or thoughts. She said ECU Police or 9-1-1 can be called in the case of an emergency.
“The university is very much committed to helping our students in providing them with the resources and services they need, and we want them to have a very satisfying experience here at East Carolina,” Hardy said. “Well-being is taken very seriously in all aspects of well-being, physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual, academically, you name it.”
Hardy said understanding that ECU undertakes a partnership with its students to provide the appropriate resources to encourage the “overall well-being” of students.