Responding to persistent student requests for an expansion to hours and resources, the Brandeis Counseling Center announced a number of changes and additions to their services for this upcoming semester. While this board has concerns about how the expanded program might affect future tuition and the cost of the Brandeis health care plan, we appreciate the necessary additions made to the BCC.

The BCC will remain open until 8 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, greatly increasing available hours for student visits. Previously, many students in need of traditional counseling services were unable to obtain them because the BCC did not offer feasible appointment times. By extending its hours, the BCC has both increased the total number of available hours for appointments and enabled more students to fit appointments into their class schedule. 

Another positive change is the introduction of drop-in Community Therapists at eight locations around campus. Community Therapists will be available for individual sessions, groups, and workshops. Drop-in sessions will provide an excellent entry point for students unsure if they require regular services. If a Community Therapist feels that a drop-in session is inadequate to fully address a student’s challenges, they will connect them with a full-time therapist. 

We also commend the BCC for increasing its preventive care options through the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy pilot program, which aims to help students manage common mental health challenges — anxiety, depression, academic stress — through the application of CBT. With numerous studies detailing the distressing state of mental health on college campuses, the unique resources available to cognitive behavior specialists at Brandeis is an excellent way to improve the wellbeing of greater numbers of students. 

Finally, the BCC will offer weekly access to therapy dogs every Monday at 3:30. Animal therapy has a long history of efficacy, and Brandeis has often brought in therapy dogs during finals weeks. Having them available on a weekly basis is a positive step. 

However, as necessary and promising as these changes are, they will inevitably come at a sizable financial cost. While we hope that the extra funding from the Division of Student Affairs and the increased reliance on billing insurance companies will be enough to cover the cost of improved services, this board is concerned that costs will eventually be passed along to students through an increase in tuition or the cost of the University health care plan. Raising the cost of the University health care plan could result in more students choosing to use private insurance instead — even if it may not adequately cover physical or mental health services.  

Overall, this board appreciates the BCC’s responsiveness to the past semester’s mental health forum, and we hope that these positive developments will not be diminished by an additional financial burden on students.