As of the new year, students enrolled at Kansas State are able to access free counseling sessions from Counseling Services.
Dr. Kodee Walls, assistant director and training director at Counseling Services, said this change was made to decrease barriers to access.
“With the mental health crises that have become a reality for the country, and certainly a lot of students who maybe in the past decades wouldn’t have been able to go to college because their mental health treatment would have gone unaddressed,” Walls said. “We have higher functioning people with more chronic mental health concerns coming to college to be successful, so we needed to kind of open up opportunities for those folks.”
Free individual counseling is on a short-term model of care, meaning that students can get eight sessions per semester. Walls said a lot of the people she works with are doing bi-weekly sessions and this model allows her to see double the clients.
“That’s so people can kind of get a sense of, ‘Are these needs something that I can have addressed at the Counseling Center, or do I need to look for other options and referrals in the community?'” Walls said.
Workshops, group therapy, couples counseling and biofeedback are unlimited and also free. All scheduled appointments have a $25 no-show or late cancellation fee.
“We want to make sure that other people don’t become a barrier to access for folks,” Walls said. “If you have an appointment, for example, and you no-show it … then you’ve basically taken that away from another person.”
Walls said she often recommends group therapy and adds that small groups of six to eight people tend to decrease isolation.
“That tends to be one of my primary referrals because for college students, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, they can be very isolating,” she said. “So, you come to therapy and you talk one-on-one with a clinician, it can be great and amazing, but the isolation doesn’t necessarily decrease.”
While there will still be a wait, Walls said these changes will start to lower the amount of time it takes to get in. She also noted that it may take two or three weeks to get an appointment at Counseling Services, but other mental health centers or private practices can take six weeks or six months.
“There will still be a wait to get into initial appointments,” Walls said. “This isn’t just going to disappear in that you call today and get in tomorrow, but it should significantly decrease the amount of time people end up waiting.”