Ohio University has launched a psychological services program specifically for students in the Honors Tutorial College, or HTC.
The program, launched in May 2020, was developed by HTC Dean Donal Skinner to address the increased need for psychological services of high-achieving students, Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said.
The program was approved for funding for three years, drawing from fiscal year 18 carryover funds, and is currently in the second year of running. A budget of $25,000 per year was approved, totaling $75,000 for all three years of the program.
Currently, a further funding source has not been approved. However, the university hopes to do so to allow the program to continue, Leatherwood said.
The psychological services are provided by two HTC liaisons, whose roles are filled by different people each academic year. The liaisons are post-master’s doctoral students who are acting as contact points for HTC students. They receive training for both general adult psychology as well as for high-achieving students prior to filling the position.
Each liaison has about seven hours per week dedicated to the program, offering individual consultation and performing outreach to HTC classes, Leatherwood said. So far, use of the program has been high, and some students have had to be rerouted to other doctoral psychology students for longer-term care.
“Students appreciate the extra support provided to them through this pilot program. The challenge is identifying a sustainable model to continue this program,” Megan Austin, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, said.
The program not only benefits undergraduate HTC students but also the graduate students providing the services. The liaisons are not financially compensated, but they receive course credit and clinical training, Austin said.
The fees instead cover things such as licensed clinical supervisor time, assessment materials and other administrative costs, she said.
Although OU does provide standard counseling services to all students, there is a nationally known increase in need for those in high-achieving programs, Austin said.
Austin also directed attention to research data detailing this increased need.
According to a 2019 research survey conducted by Active Minds, a nonprofit that raises awareness of mental health issues among college students, 91% of those surveyed felt overwhelmed by their responsibilities within the last year. The survey consisted of responses from 9,319 students with a grade point average of 3.4 or higher at various U.S. colleges and universities.
According to the survey, two out of three students reported feeling a need for psychological or counseling services in the past year. However, only 16% sought help from a professional. Contrasting the low number of those seeking help, however, 90% of participants believed counseling is helpful to one’s mental health.
When it came to seeking help, 46% of participants believed others look down on those who seek professional help. Additionally, 33% identified finances, time or difficulty finding an appointment as the reason for not seeking professional help.
Students who need help regarding mental health can speak to someone on campus through Counseling and Psychological Services here.