Temple to expand mental health services as need increases

Temple University plans to add $1 million to its mental health services budget, reorganize the delivery of its programs under one office, and add counselors at a new site on its health sciences campus, the school said Monday. Said to

The move – amid recommendations made by a university task force on mental health and well-being set up last spring – follows national trends as demand for services continues to rise.

“It’s not unusual for me to be talking to a group of students and one of them mentions seeing a therapist or being on medication,” says Gregory N. Mandel, Provost said. “Others will start talking, and most of them are on medication or seeing a therapist for mental health challenges, and others talking to Provost is not unusual.”

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Mark Dennis, who will lead the new Health and Wellness Division – encompassing the offices of Student and Employee Health Services, Tuttleman Counseling Services and the Wellness Resource Center – said the temple would soon launch a survey to get a better handle on how many people Students need mental health.

But he said the school is likely in line with national trends that show it houses about half the student population. He said that before the pandemic the needs were increasing and it brought isolation, which added to the problem.

“It’s a significant number of students who are having difficulty right now,” said Dennis, who has been senior director of health services but will have the new title of associate vice provost for health and wellness. “Demand far exceeds our ability to provide care at this point.”

Temple has about 18 mental health counselors; With the additional $1 million, Mandel said he hopes to make about 10 more appointments as well as boost salaries of current employees to make the university more competitive and help retain staff.

The money will also help the university add a counseling space to the Health Sciences Campus, on the north side on Broad Street, where Temple’s medical school and dentistry, pharmacy and nursing programs are based.

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Melanie Cosby, assistant professor at the Center for Urban Bioethics and director of diversity and inclusion at the medical school, said the medical school is contracting with about a dozen outside consultants to help with student mental health needs, because demand is so high. Is. He noted that students, who have demanding academic schedules, are often unable to make time to access counseling services on the main campus.

“Having those counselors available really puts a strain on the budget that really isn’t efficient,” said Cosby, co-chair of the task force made up of students, faculty and staff. “If we have people who are hired for the university versus essentially paid private practitioners, we can probably spread it.”

Supporting students with mental health challenges will ultimately help them academically as well, said Dan Berman, vice provost for undergraduate studies and co-chair of the task force. He has seen an increase in students with mental health challenges who have requested to withdraw the course. He said mental health challenges may not be the cause of withdrawal, but they can be a contributing factor.

“We can really make progress in helping our students stay in school by sinking more attention and resources into this particular issue,” he said.

The university also recently launched a partnership with the Z Foundation, which helps colleges improve mental health services, including suicide prevention. Dennis said the foundation is helping the temple with student surveys and will visit the campus in March.

Also as part of the new effort, the temple plans to expand wellness programs for employees.

“If our employees aren’t happy, it’s going to create a negative cycle,” Dennis said. “We want our employees to be happy at work. This helps with retention and productivity.

Temple’s focus on wellness is expanding. Last fall, the school canceled classes and held its first “Wellness Day,” encouraging students and staff to use the day to focus on wellness and self-care.

University officials said the counseling center has also expanded service, doubling the number of students registering for help and students can be seen on the same day or within 48 hours.

Dennis said the temple also wants to nurture a crew of “health ambassadors,” employees specially trained to help other students and other staff navigate mental health and wellness services.

This was another recommendation that came out of the task force’s report, which Temple declined to release publicly, saying it contained “sensitive information”.

The school on Monday launched a new website outlining the new structure and services. All mental health and wellness programs will be under the new division instead of being spread across three offices. This, Mandel said, would lead to better coordination and communication.

“We need to proof our communication strategies so people know what’s available,” he said.

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