In response to The Oracle’s article from Oct. 6 — “Some students expect more direct approach from Counseling Center” — I wish to provide some context to the concerns presented in this story.
As a comprehensive counseling center providing individual and group counseling services to over 3,500 Bulls each year, and outreach and consultation services reaching well over 13,000 members of the USF community annually, the article does not fully capture the center’s positive impact on our community.
I am proud of the services provided by the Tampa campus Counseling Center and do not believe the students quoted in The Oracle story are representative of most students’ experience with us.
At the end of the fall and spring semesters, we offer all students who have received services the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience. Consistently, over 94% of students report overall satisfaction with the services they receive, with over 95% of students reporting they would return to us for additional services in the future if needed and would recommend us to their friends.
Of those who completed the survey, 85% express an opinion that counseling helped them academically, while 72% report they are more likely to remain in college as a result of the services they received. By comparison, national data on these items are 68% and 64%, respectively.
To highlight the experiences of a few students whose expectations were not met when seeking our services does not adequately represent the quality of services provided by the Tampa campus Counseling Center.
The Counseling Center engages in a process of continuous quality improvement, and we welcome the feedback provided by all students who seek our services. It is disheartening to read the student stories profiled in the story, and we appreciate hearing about their experiences so that we can improve our services.
The dedicated staff of the Counseling Center work diligently to meet the needs of all students seeking mental health treatment, and hope students will directly share their feedback through our client experience surveys so that we can better understand their concerns and make improvements where possible.
We use the data and comments provided in our client experience surveys to improve our services, and make changes to meet the mental health needs of all students seeking care. We will continue to aim for a positive experience for every student.
Finally, USF understands that student mental health concerns impact a significant percentage of Bulls, and continues to invest in increasing access to necessary mental health services.
This fall USF partnered with TimelyCare, a virtual mental health platform that provides free counseling and health coaching to enhance services provided on campus. TimelyCare provides immediate access to mental health services through its TalkNow service, and allows students to schedule ongoing counseling and health coaching services with a wide range of available providers.
Scheduled counseling services are typically available within one to four days of a student’s request. We invite students to explore the services available to them at www.timelycare.com/usf.
Additionally, students also have access to Togetherall, another online platform offering peer-to-peer support. Monitored by mental health professionals, Togetherall offers a more informal approach to assist college students with their well-being using a community approach, which many students prefer to formal counseling.
Most importantly, I want to ensure that our students do not read the article and feel discouraged from seeking support for their mental health and wellbeing. USF is committed to providing an environment where everyone can thrive, and the university will continue to explore and implement new measures to support the health and wellness of our students.
Scott Strader, Ph.D.
Director, Tampa campus Counseling Center