Yesterday, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) invited students to 30 College for a discussion about mental health services with faculty and administrators. The forum continues a series of discussions held last year intended to facilitate communication between students and administrators on mental wellbeing.
The Office of Residential Life (ResLife) Representative Cash Reynolds ’24 shared that he was excited to see the conversations being resumed. As someone who works extensively with Counseling and Wellness Services through his role on ResLife and the Student Affairs Committee, Reynolds noted that students often report that they are unable to speak with administrators about mental health or clarify essential questions on the topic.
“There is a lot of miscommunication, especially with sophomores and juniors, [regarding] what counseling does and their availability. At least in my year, people thought that counseling was overbooked with weird policies [that] no one liked, and a lot of these [ideas] are either not true at all or the twisted truth,” Reynolds said. “We thought it would be helpful for students to meet with administrators about these issues and hopefully try to clear things up.”
The roundtable conversation attempted to clarify student expectations and misconceptions of counseling services. Participants in the roundtable generally agreed that services nationally are overwhelmed. However, administrators noted that Bowdoin has taken actionable steps to increase resources for Counseling and Wellness Services since the start of Clayton Rose’s tenure, including hiring more counselors to meet student demand.
Counseling and Wellness Services staff also noted accessibility issues that arise when students search for resources outside of Bowdoin and how that may complicate student experiences. Many maintained that students of color struggle to receive adequate care and did, and still do, not feel seen by Bowdoin practitioners, which led to a deeper discussion of accessibility. Possible solutions were explored that would inform students about Counseling and Wellness Services early in their Bowdoin careers.
The conversation concluded with an analysis of structural triggers of student stress and the stigma associated with mental health on campus. Additionally, the group asserted that mental health services should be utilized regularly in order to circumvent these structural triggers and not just be utilized in times of crisis.
BSG plans to offer more mental health forums this month and hopes to continue discussions during the coming fall semester.