Dr. Jenkins gave a presentation with Dr. Cameron John last Thursday at UVU’s mental health symposium on depression.
”We are understaffed for the size of student body we have,” Jenkins said after their presentation.
UVU has five mental-health counselors and BYU has 30, despite that the two universities are similar in size and student demographics. The national standard of counselor-to-student ratio is 1:1,500. UVU has a ratio of around 1:5,000. Jenkins said that because of the lack of counselors, some students have to wait two to three weeks to see a counselor, and some counselors work through their lunch breaks to see an extra patient.
“Then you have to worry about burn out [with the counselors],” Jenkins said.
Jenkins did say that the Health Center takes emergency and high-risk patients who need to see a counselor immediately. He said there are some days when a counselor will see two or three high-risk patients on top of their usual schedule, which adds even more work and stress for the counselors.
The long wait to see a counselor, and the need for more of them, concerns some students at UVU.
“College kids being looked after should be [UVU’s] top priority,” said Cody Burton, international business major. “A lot of bad things can happen in two or three weeks.”
Jenkins said the program needs more mental health professionals to help bring those wait times down, but also congratulated administration for “doing the best they can. The last two or three years they have done a wonderful job.”
According to Jenkins and John, a positive and powerful support system is key when trying to overcome depression, and that’s why UVU’s mental health program is so important. Jenkins and John said that of UVU’s student body, around 10 percent suffer from some degree of depression, which is the national average. However, without more mental health counselors that 10 percent can become more serious.