Ashland University offers free mental health services to all students

As another semester draws to a close, Ashland University is reminding students that those who need mental health services during the school year can get the help they need.

It was reported that during the fall semester, 14 Ashland University students were hospitalized with mental health emergencies, while 33 students experienced non-emergency mental health incidents after class that did not result in hospitalization. Dr. Oscar McKnight, associate dean of students and director of psychological counseling at Ashland University, spoke to the Ashland Times-Gazette about the services the university now offers to students on and off campus.

The Healthy Minds 2022-2023 data report reveals the role of mental health on students

According to the Healthy Minds 2022-2023 data report, students experienced a variety of mental health crises, including severe and moderate depression (41%), anxiety (26%), eating disorder (14%) and non-suicidal self-harm (29%). Suicidal ideation in the past year was 14%, and lifetime diagnoses of mental disorders were 46%.

Study participants also revealed over a four-week period that 22 percent felt that emotional or mental difficulties hurt their academic performance. The survey also showed that 21% of participants strongly agreed that they know where to go to access resources from their college. However, most participants would turn to family members (41%) rather than a faculty/professor (6%) or staff member (3%) for mental or emotional support.

Regarding the use of services in their schools, participants indicated that there were multiple factors, including financial reasons (21%), difficulty finding free time (11%), insufficient time (24), a preference to deal with problems alone (21%).

Of the participants, 54% were female, 41% were male, and 4% were other.

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What mental health services does Ashland University provide to students?

According to the Ashland University website, counseling services are now available through the university’s Psychological Counseling Services. Staff provide personal counseling to traditional full-time students. The service is also designed to help students achieve their goals both on and off campus. Most importantly, all counseling and testing services are free to students as well as unlimited. This means that the student can receive services for as long as needed.

McKnight said the Ashland University Psychological Counseling Service provides comprehensive services, which is an extended treatment plan from hospitalization to university services. Among the services students can receive are addressing personal mental health issues, such as dealing with anxiety and stress; building self-esteem; depression management; and dealing with intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Grief counseling is also available.

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Other services include accelerated learning (balancing test anxiety), developing healthy habits (stress and time management), establishing healthy interpersonal relationships (focus on communication skills and dealing with roommate conflicts), planning for the future (life learning and career testing). Ashland University Psychological Counseling Services also has emotional health resources.

McKnight also stated that most of the time there is no waiting list and services provide services to an average of 36 students per week. He said if anyone calls or walks in needing services, they will be seen. Students entering as freshmen may register prior to the start of the academic year so that they can receive services at the beginning of the year without scheduling problems. The service is available both in person and via teleconference.

McKnight is one of three licensed counselors available through Ashland University’s Psychological Counseling Services. There is also a nurse practitioner and a registered nurse who are licensed in mental health. Services usually have one to four consultant trainees who can see patients.

McKnight also said that thanks to a recent federal grant, Ashland University’s Psychological Counseling Services is able to hire a case manager in the master’s program who will also provide counseling services. They will also perform receiving, swaddling and other services. The case manager is due to start in January 2024.

Ashland University Counseling Services are currently only available throughout the academic year and are closed during the summer.

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