McGrath starts ‘Let’s Talk’ service

Students now have the ability to talk to a licensed therapist in short sessions

Photo courtesy of Xavier’s Health and Wellness Program | McGrath’s new service “Let’s Talk” is offered every Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

With the release of the Healthy Minds Study and the Stress and Depression questionnaire surveys, students may have noticed an increase in McGrath Health and Wellness Center’s presence among students. On Monday, McGrath added a new service to the list when it launced “Let’s Talk.”

“Let’s Talk” creates a space for students to come to McGrath as walk-ins and speak to licensed therapists. The sessions are short, 15-20 minute periods in which students can discuss anything without having to go through structured counseling. The service is available Mondays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Part of the reason for the push in mental health services on campus is attributed to Xavier becoming a JED campus last semester. The Jed Foundation (JED) is a non-profit organization that seeks to aid campuses in protecting emotional health as well as preventing substance abuse and suicides. Xavier joined the ranks of other JED campuses like Ohio State University, Kent State University and Harvard University.

One of JED’s first orders of business is to survey the student body, through anonymous questionnaires.

“Unfortunately we’ve had limited resources,” Associate Director of counseling Dr. Timothy Barron said. “There are people floating down a river, and you can help take them out of the river, which is what we do in counseling, hopefully, but then you also want to go upriver and see who’s throwing people in the river. That’s where Wellness programming comes along.”

Despite its efforts, the counseling department’s outreach has been limited because of the high demand for its services.

“I think McGrath definitely needs to step up their game with counselors,” Vice President of the Active Minds club and senior Katelynne McMonagle said while tabling for the group on Monday. Active Minds is a club on campus that raises awareness of mental health to reduce its stigmas.

Some of McMonagle’s primary concerns with McGrath’s performance are the taboos of discussing mental health and the consequential lack of awareness about available services.

“People just don’t even know that you can just go (to McGrath) and see someone,” McMonagle said.

Additionally, during the weekly Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Monday, Associate Provost and Chief Student Affairs Officer Dr. Dave Johnson echoed similar thoughts while informing the senators and executives of the university’s “wellness strategic plan.”

“Last year, we had what were some not insignificant waitlists for students who wanted to be seen in those spaces,” Johnson said.

Already, two to three -week waitlists to see a counselor are reportedly cropping up, which Johnson characterized as unacceptable.

Counseling supervisor Stacy Landberg looks forward to helping “Let’s Talk” develop.

“We’re starting small,” Landberg said. “I think the goal eventually is to have us…embedded in different places on campus at certain hours and certain days where we’re accessible to who wouldn’t normally come up the hill.”

Drawn from Cornell University, “Let’s Talk” is designed to be an unbiased, nonclinical space where students can go without having to set up counseling appointments and can get things off their chests.

“It’s a way of getting to the students who are kind of in the background and need support,” Landberg said.

In addition to the new service and a health coach from the partnership with TriHealth, Barron is optimistic about a number of things: the growth of workshops already integrated into McGrath’s treatment plan, a technology-based interactive program called Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), hiring a new part-time counselor for evening hours and hiring a new graduate assistant.

“It is an option to go up (to McGrath) and see a therapist for anything,” McMonagle said. “Even if it’s just one time. It’s not something you’re stuck in. You can go once, and you don’t ever have to go again.”

The center is taking things “little by little,” Barron concluded, with which Landberg agreed.

Although describing their efforts as small steps forward, “Let’s Talk” is one of the many strides Xavier is taking toward improving mental health services on campus and reducing stigma.

By: Soondos Mulla-Ossman ~Copy Editor~