By Jocelyn Gardner ‘17
Mental Health Columnist & Webmaster
Somewhere within last week’s barrage of Student-L emails, I noticed the subject line “Expanded Services at Monsour.” While this doesn’t seem monumental (especially since students have wanted more services for a long time), I was impressed at the changes described in this email, particularly at those concerning the crisis line.
For those of you who don’t know, crisis counselors from Monsour are available 24/7 via Campus Safety’s main line. If you want to be get in touch with this emergency service, you must call Campus Safety and provide information before speaking with the counselor from Monsour. This service is useful in the case of mental health crises, and it allows students to get help at any time of day as well as set up an emergency, in-person appointment for the next day.
As vital as this resource is, it may be (bad) to some people to have to call Campus Safety and give information before speaking with the crisis counselor. These couple of minutes can make a huge difference in a crisis situation. Also, many people don’t realize that to whom a student speaks in a crisis makes a huge difference in help-seeking and crisis counseling. Having to call Campus Safety to get psychological help might send the wrong message to students, anyway. They might wonder whether they are going to be forcibly removed from campus or if they are doing something wrong, for example.
All of this is important to recognize in Monsour’s new system—to reach a crisis counselor at any time of day, the email tells us, “Instead of calling Campus Safety and waiting for them to page the counselor on call, students can call the MCAPS (Monsour) main line (909-621-8202), and be connected to an on-call counselor within 30 seconds. This will eliminate the need to wait for a counselor to call them back.” This will also eliminate any possible (ickiness) of calling Campus Safety and giving them your personal information. On the topic of giving personal information, the email also promises “increased confidentiality of all calls” with the elimination of the Campus Safety step.
So far, this email tells us we’ll have faster access to crisis counseling that is more confidential and doesn’t go through CampSec. These seemingly-small changes can make a huge difference. It gets even better!
Monsour has also added multiple counselors available at one time, so more than one student can talk to a counselor at a time. This means that it is less likely that all counselors will be unavailable when a student calls. Monsour should now be equipped to deal with the unpredictable timing of crises: even if more than one student calls them at one time, they can help these students.
The last change is that the crisis line is available continuously year-round. Spring break? They’ll be there. Winter break? Still there. Summer break??? Yes, they are available!
This increase in support is a really good sign and a breakthrough in Monsour’s ability to support the growing needs of students. I’m confident that this trend will continue as they receive student and staff feedback.
Having used the crisis line more than once for friends on campus, I can say that it is an extremely important resource and that the change to it have the potential to make a huge difference in the mental health care on campus.
These changes begin on Monday, Apr. 18.
For more information about Monsour or its changes, contact director Dr. Gary DeGroot or Dr. Anneka Busse at Monsour’s main line: (909) 621-8202.