Rowan Wellness Center seeks to expand mental health resources

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Many students, such as junior writing arts major Antony Copsey, say Rowan’s Wellness Center is lacking in its mental health services and believe it is because the university does not have the proper number of counselors at a school that’s growing rapidly.

But David Rubenstein, the associate vice president for student wellness, recognizes the growing need for mental health resources. He remains steadfast in his efforts to continue increasing the number of counselors on campus in order to eventually eradicate the waiting list.

As of last week, there were 27 students on the waiting list to see a counselor. These students had a triage appointment and are waiting for assignment to a specific counselor, Rubenstein said. According to his records, 37 students walked into the wellness center last week seeking mental health resources.

“This means we were able to match 10 of them in a week,” Rubenstein said. “Three years ago we used to have 150 people on the waiting list. Two years ago we had 125. And at the end of this past fall, we had just over 50. So we’re trying to make significant improvements.”

Rubenstein’s office added one new counselor on Monday, Feb. 6, bringing the total number of counselors at Rowan University to 13.5, with 13 full-time counselors and one part-time. Rowan’s mental health services are free to students.

According to the International Association of Counseling Services, Rowan’s 13,169 students should be served by 11-17 counselors. Its policy specifically states, “Every effort should be made to maintain minimum staffing ratios in the range of one F.T.E. professional staff member (excluding trainees) to every 1,000 to 1,500 students.”

Rubenstein said he knows it can be frustrating for a student to work up the courage to seek mental health services and be turned away due to a waiting list. Knowing this is a problem, he put in a budget request to add two new counselors next budget year.

When Rubenstein first started his job as assistant vice president, the campus wellness center was housed in Savitz Hall. There were only four counselors to serve its 10,600 students, which was not within the International Association of Counseling Services’ ratio.

“The university recognized access to these resources as a need, which was one of the reasons Winans Hall was transformed from a bookstore into a clinic,” he said.

In addition to privately seeking a counselor, “Let’s Talk” counselors are stationed weekdays throughout campus. These are walk-in, individualized appointments geared to provide informal consultations with the university’s counselors.

Students can also seek group counseling, couples/family counseling, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, alcohol and substance abuse therapy, crisis counseling and psychiatric services in addition to individual therapy. An on-call counselor is available 24 hours a day by calling the Wellness Center at 856-256-4333.

Inspira Urgent Care on Rowan Boulevard also offers mental health services. These services require health insurance.

Rubenstein encourages students who have questions about the Wellness Center’s mental health services to contact him or his office.

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