Shortage of Therapists Puts Strain on College Students
Mental health counseling services at UC-Davis and California State University-Sacramento are working to address growing student demand but do not have adequate staffing, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Both schools' counseling services are operating below the accepted ratio of one therapist per 1,000 to 1,500 students. UC-Davis has one therapist per 2,500 students, while Sacramento State has one therapist for about every 4,000 students.
Counselors at both schools immediately help students with mental health emergencies, but the staffing strain stems from the majority of students who seek non-emergency appointments.
Bert Epstein, director of Psychological Counseling Services at Sacramento State, said about 1,000 students obtain services annually. The university has the full-time equivalent of seven licensed therapists and one psychiatrist.
A CSU spokesperson said the university system has no plans to increase staffing at the counseling centers.
Emil Rodolfa, director of counseling and psychological services at UC-Davis, said students typically wait two to three weeks for follow-up appointments with therapists. Rodolfa said that 1,700 students in 2000 visited the center, compared with 3,000 visits in 2006, an increase she attributes to a growing student body, along with a lower social stigma toward mental illness.
Michael Young, co-chair of a mental health committee that made recommendations last year to the UC Regents, said, "We just don't have enough psychologists and mental health professionals (in California) to address the full range of needs."
Young said the number of therapists in the UC system needs to be doubled to maintain an acceptable ratio. The university could achieve this through a 2% increase in general fees, according to the Bee (Reese, Sacramento Bee, 4/26).