Expand mental health services
February 21, 2020
To the Editor:
Among 38 elite institutions, Bowdoin College is ranked third in the number of students who seek counseling and mental health services. This statistic is not inherently negative—in fact, it demonstrates how, in some ways, Bowdoin is doing something right. The historic increase in students seeking counseling shows that our students are both informed about mental health issues and feel empowered enough to seek them out. This is no doubt a triumph and a result of the College doing a better job providing information for and outreach to students with mental health needs; however, this victory is in vain if our Counseling Services lack the resources necessary to provide adequate support to students.
Counseling and Wellness Services at Bowdoin has five permanent staff members. These staff members are busy and overworked, each seeing between eight to 12 students a day while the national average for a counselor is six. Last year, 30 percent of students utilized Counseling and Wellness Services, a historic high. This year, there is already a 17 percent increase. At Bowdoin, it takes a month to see a psychiatrist, when it should take no more than three weeks. The wait time to see a counselor has increased from two days to two weeks. These numbers are terrifying.
Bowdoin is not equipped to meet the demand of its students, and, as a result, both students and staff are suffering. Our generation is struggling, but the difference is we are more open about it than previous generations. The administration must meet its students halfway. When students are trapped on waitlists and forced to wait long periods of time, the results are detrimental. It’s easier for these students to get discouraged and lost. It is not merely a matter of inconvenience. We strongly encourage the administration to take a closer look at this issue because it is not going to go away, and these numbers will likely only increase. Counseling and Wellness Services must be expanded, not just for the sake of the students but for the sake of the hardworking and dedicated staff.
Next week, Bowdoin Student Government will be voting on a proposal written by Ryan Britt ’22 on behalf of the Student Affairs Committee, encouraging an expansion of these services and a closer look by the administration on this issue. We strongly encourage students to attend this meeting and voice their opinion.
Safa Saleh ’22 (Representative for Health and Counseling on the Bowdoin Student Government) and the rest of the Student Affairs Committee.
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