In a recent interview, Dr. Joy von Steiger of the Brandeis Counseling Center revealed that several changes were made to improve efficiency and students’ overall experience. These changes came at the right time, as the BCC has seen a 90 percent increase in walk-in appointments and a 2,000 percent increase in after-hours emergencies this year. One of these changes is the addition of five new staff members to accommodate Brandeis students’ growing need, bringing the total number of therapists up to 24. 

This board commends the BCC for acknowledging the needs of Brandeis students and taking appropriate action. In addition to the new staff hires, the BCC has increased the diversity of its crisis staff and also sought to increase its cultural competency. Increased diversity not only improves the efficiency of the BCC, but also helps ensure that each student has an environment in which they feel comfortable enough to talk and receive help. As it currently stands, there is only one staff member that speaks either Mandarin or Cantonese. This is not ideal for the staff member, nor is it suitable for the number of international students on this campus. In the Fall 2016 semester, international students made up 21 percent of the undergraduate population and nearly 32 percent of graduate students. 

As part of its changes, the BCC has also begun to offer more group counseling sessions, in addition to existing one-on-one meetings. When asked, one student revealed that their overall experience with the BCC has been positive, noting that both the one-on-one and group sessions they attended were helpful. The student also revealed that they had difficulty making an initial appointment with the BCC stating, “It took me a long time to get my appointment, and now that I'm finally in the system, I'm fine, but for the first couple appointments, it was hard to find times, since they were so booked.” This is a problem that many students have complained about in the past, and as a result, the wait time between the initial consultation and first appointment has been reduced to within one week. This improvement is much needed, as the previous waiting time of one month was unreasonable for a student seeking mental health services. 

This board applauds the BCC in its efforts to cater to students and improve their overall experience. As part of this commitment, the BCC has also implemented new night hours, extended to 8 p.m. on Monday and Thursday and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. This not only helps students whose schedules may not have aligned with the previous hours of operation but also accommodates the increased demand for its services. 

Overall, the BCC has made significant progress in recognizing and addressing the needs of students and this board commends them for such.