After several weeks of deliberation, Kansas State Counseling Services received a recurring five percent increase over the next three years, allocated by the universities privilege fee committee in order to lessen the burden on individual staff members as the demand for mental health professionals increases.
Dan Larson, director of Counseling Services, said about 60 percent of the overall budget comes from privilege fee allocation, and the remaining 40 percent comes from the state of Kansas.
Counseling Services was allocated $728,943 from the campus privilege fee prior to the increase. Sarah Niederee, chair of the privilege fee committee, said of the five entities that were in review this year, three are receiving increases at varying levels.
“This committee is comprised of members of Student Governing Association as well as at-large members to try to get a wholistic view of what the student body’s priorities are,” Niederee said.
The Counseling Services currently has four pre-doctorate interns and 10 members on the clinical staff, one of whom is being paid out of the reserve fund. Larson said he hopes with the additional money, staff sustainability will no longer be an issue.
“The staff-to-student ratio is tight,” Larson said. “It is adequate enough to meet students’ needs, but additional staff members could keep the waitlist to a minimum.”
In the next two to three years, Larson said the department wants to add another pre-doctorate graduate intern to their roster to help students get in quicker.
In addition to funding more staff, the privilege fee allocation increase would ensure that all employees of the Counseling Services can complete their required 50 hours of continued education units. Larson said the increased funding will also help to supplement current staffers’ salaries to count in the cost of living.
“Our counselors are always seeing students, so there was not a lot of time or personnel for outreach in the community,” Larson said.
“Mental health programs being available to college kids is really important,” Tanji Lewis, junior in chemistry, said. “Students endure insane amounts of stress in their time here, so having resources for us to utilize is very necessary.”
Larson said overall, Counseling Services is extremely grateful for the extra funding because it will enable the entity to expand. Additionally, he said SGA’s interest in students’ mental health was made obvious through the committee’s decision.
“We recognize how SGA is putting students’ needs as a top priority,” Larson said. “We hope to continue to do the same.”
Counseling Services is currently located in the English/Counseling Services Building, but will relocate to Lafene Health Center in May.