UI Counseling Service’s Old Capitol Mall location becomes increasingly popular

University Counseling Service started a new location at the Old Capitol Mall in August 2017. Since then, the center has become more popular among students.


Nick Rohlman

The University Counseling Service is seen in the Old Capitol Mall on Sept. 28, 2017.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

The second main University Counseling Service location — the first such space on the East Side of campus — has become increasingly popular among students since its fall 2017 opening.

Officials said more than one-fifth of the people the service saw last year were seen at the East Side location, which opened last year in the University Capitol Center.

Last year, the service saw 2,627 people, said Paula Keeton, the director of clinical services. Of those numbers, Westlawn (West Campus) had 1,971 and the East Side 595. There were some people who were seen at both locations.

The Counseling Service has had its main location in Westlawn for the last 20 years, Director Barry Schreier said. For the average undergraduate student, however, this seems far away.

The East Side location housed the UI Quick Care center before the Counseling Service.

“We thought, in some ways, being only [in Westlawn] was a bit of the barrier to accessing the service,” Schreier said.

The services offered in the East Side location mirror those offered in Westlawn, Keeton said.

Students received 16,038 hours of counseling last year, Keeton said — 8 percent more than the previous year. Of that, she said about 1,688 hours were delivered at the East Side location. Keeton noted the bulk was at Westlawn because the group sessions take place there.

“We have started offering group here [East Side], but only after hours,” Keeton said. “We don’t have the space to do so during business hours.”

Schreier said students are asked to wait a little longer if they choose to be seen at the East Side location.

On an average, the longest a student has to wait is two weeks, Schreier said.

The UI is doing what it can to listen to and accommodate student voices, Keeton said.

“That there are these waiting times shows that students use the services,” she said.

Officials believed the service needed to expand, Schreier said, because the space in Westlawn seemed inadequate.

“Needing the space and the convenient location, we thought this was an excellent opportunity, because we needed more staff on the East Side,” he said.

Keeton said that while the East Side sees about a quarter of the Counseling Service’s users, the staff stays busy.

“… If you look at the staff, four of us make up fewer than a quarter of clinicians,” she said. “So, we stay pretty busy.”

The Counseling Service also added seven new staff members over the last few years, Schreier said. This was made possible after the state Board of Regents approved a $12.50 mental-health fee that had been proposed by student-government leaders in the fall of 2016.

“The university is doing a great job with [mental-health awareness], especially in times when the university’s resources are shrinking,” Schreier said.

In addition to the new location and hiring more staff, Schreier said the Counseling Service has created more options for students.

The service has two embedded counselors at Catlett Hall to serve students living in the dorms. It additionally has two counselors dedicated to student-athletes and one counselor serving the College of Dentistry.

The university has done a great job responding to students’ mental-health needs, said UI Student Government Sen. Sammy Stoll, also the president of Active Minds, a student organization dedicated to raising awareness surrounding mental-health issues. The Counseling Service’s East Side location and having counselors in the residence halls are a few examples.

Stoll said it is great that there are other student organizations, in addition to the university, that aim to raise awareness about mental health.

“Whether some people need help with [mental health] or not, that’s variable,” she said. “But mental health is important, because we all have it.”

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