In a response to The Miami Hurricane’s editorial about the UM Counseling Center’s lack of campus presence, Ernesto Escoto, the center’s director, discussed a continuing campaign to improve awareness of mental health issues, as well as access to services that aim to address these.
That was in January. Now, the Counseling Center is limiting students to 15 visits per academic year, a move that seems, at first glance, to set back the Counseling Center’s goals.
Many students may begin to worry about the number of times they’ve visited, which may create the false impression that their mental health is somehow less important than their physical health.
After all, no budgetary or staff restraints would ever force such limits on visits to the Health Center.
But if they did, it is not inconceivable that a students may dismiss a painful headache to save their restricted visits, and then turn out, when it is too late, to have had meningitis.
A 15-visit limit on counseling risks creating a similarly brutal calculus, where students in emotional distress, hesitating to “waste” one of their visits, may decide not to seek the help they actually need.
However, it is imperative that students keep in mind that the Counseling Center will never turn away a person in need.
The 15-visit limit, prompted by understaffing, provides a general mechanism for the center to help as many people as possible by ensuring the center’s limited resources are not cornered by the same students over and over again.
If students require help beyond the center’s ability to provide, they will be referred to a specialist.
In addition, the new triage model ensures that all students in acute emotional distress, regardless of whether they’ve maxed out their visits or not, will be seen according to the urgency of their needs.
These policy changes, however strange they may sound at first, show no deviation from the Counseling Center’s mission to help students. A student should never hesitate to take advantage of the resources it provides.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.