Support the JMU Counseling Center
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, college student mental health—and how campuses were responding—was increasingly in the national spotlight, as media outlets across the country reported that a mental health crisis existed at U.S. colleges and universities and that it was worsening. Here a JMU, a 2019 survey of our instructional faculty reported that 86% of faculty indicated that student mental health had negatively affected their classroom environment and that 75% of faculty had been impacted outside of the classroom by these issues. Unfortunately, the societal response to the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the existing negative trends in college student mental health. Research by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (2021) stated it this way: “The demand for mental health services increased annually pre-COVID; these results suggest that next year’s increase could be larger than usual.”
The JMU Counseling Center experienced annual 10% increases in demand prior to the pandemic, and the severity of student issues increased dramatically in the Fall 2021 Semester. Despite this mounting challenge, the Counseling Center achieves client satisfaction above 90% as indicated on evaluations, and it continues to be a highly efficient clinical service delivery system that provides timely, quality client care right on the JMU campus, including referrals to other providers as needed. Further, 70% of students report that Counseling Center services helped them to improve their academic performance and to remain in school.
Given the scope of the challenge, everyone in the JMU community has an important role to play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our students. One of the most direct ways to make a difference is to make a donation today.
Annually, our Counseling Center assists roughly 2,000 students with services including:
- short-term (3 to 5 sessions) individual counseling to address personal problems negatively impacting the quality of life, as well as referrals to professionals in the local area who accept clients for longer-term clinical services
- weekly small-group counseling to deal with family issues, identity concerns, eating concerns, grief, and more;
- award-winning specialized treatment programs for issues like anxiety and perfectionism;
- clinical, educational, consultation, and referral services for survivors of sexual trauma;
- crisis consultation, in person or over the phone, to students, faculty, staff, and others who are concerned about the distressed, unusual, problematic, or potentially harmful behavior of others.
No doubt demand for these counseling services will continue to increase in the coming academic years, as it has in recent decades. To help students remain healthy and academically successful, JMU needs to continue to increase the counseling and psychiatric services available to the campus community.
Financial gifts to the JMU Counseling Center provide more clinical services to students. This is the most critical improvement we can make to care, primarily by employing additional part-time clinicians: A $100 gift helps provide 2-5 individual or group counseling hours for a student.
One additional way Financial gifts can contribute is by providing funding for telehealth. We have been examining telehealth options that would serve our community and while many students prefer in-person counseling sessions, we cannot always provide this. We’re looking for a service that will provide emergency counseling support, ongoing counseling sessions, psychiatry, and medical telehealth options. We believe this will provide a different option that will address the needs of students who may prefer telehealth or cannot get an in-person meeting right away but desire to speak with someone sooner. We expect a set of services like this to cost upwards of $800,000 annually.
We need to act now to continue to provide new and existing services to Dukes who need us more than ever before.