Brandeis counseling, we need better help
Brandeis purports itself to be a supportive place for those struggling with mental health issues; however, students on this campus lack trust in the Brandeis Counseling Center due to a wide range of issues. The University should be obligated to inform any and all current and prospective students of the limitations of its resources. The University offers a large number of publicized mental health events such as therapy dogs and de-stressing events such as Sleep Week, but they are not vigilant in terms of individual personalized care even though they claim to be. The University administration prides itself on offering these resources without acknowledging the shortage of the ones that students really need, which is misleading and potentially dangerous.
The Brandeis Counseling Center does not offer long-term care and only provides “a short-term stabilization model” to support students through short-term individual therapy, group therapy, and community therapy,” as per their website . The BCC has a list of outside therapists for students to transition to; however, these lists are limited and not always up to date. This shifts the challenge of selecting a new therapist onto students, which can seem like an impossible task, especially to those who are struggling. Because the Counseling Center must shift this responsibility onto the students, they should follow up with the students to make sure that they are making sufficient progress, and offer additional support if needed.
The degree to which the Counseling Center is understaffed is not only making therapy for students inaccessible, but is also unfair to the BCC therapists. We urge the University to increase the number of therapists available on this campus; a resource that is promised to students . This would lighten the burden on the existing therapists, allowing them to focus more directly on their patients and allow more students to use this resource. In addition to an increase of therapists, the Counseling Center should increase the number of support groups offered.
The small capacity and number of on-campus support groups makes them inaccessible to many students that would benefit from them, yet they are advertised as a resource available to all. An increased number of therapists would allow the number of these groups to increase, permitting more students to connect with and gain support from their peers and certified mental health professionals.
The consultation process for entering the BCC should be reevaluated as the list of required questions asked can make students feel uncomfortable. Asking for students to divulge very personal information in such a direct and blunt manner leaves them little room to navigate the idea of sharing said information on their own terms.
We also urge the BCC to make changes to the survey required before every therapy appointment, as it implies the possibility of hospitalization just based on a few multiple choice questions, which can be scary for a student trying to reach out for help. A negative experience with the BCC could dissuade students from reaching out or pursuing further therapy and mental health assistance in the future, ultimately creating a negative perception of mental health resources in general. This is counterproductive, as the University should be creating a safe and supportive environment for all students.
The editorial board urges the University to implement additional training to all therapists hired within the BCC, especially regarding the topics of gender and sexuality. We believe that these topics are something that every therapist at the BCC should feel comfortable talking about. An increase in training would allow students to feel more comfortable at the Counseling Center, having faith that their therapist is qualified to help with a wide range of issues and questions.
We as an editorial board agree with the Student Union’s condemnation of University administration for failing to act on their stated goals of accessibility. Their failure to build a ramp to the Counseling Center due to it being “too expensive and not necessary” prevents students with disabilities from being able to enter the BCC, a place that is advertised as being safe and accessible for all members of the community.
If Brandeis is going to advertise itself as an institution that is safe for and supportive of all of its students, then the mental health resources offered need to be significantly improved moving forward.
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