Student Health and Counseling Services Talks New Programs

The town hall was held in conjunction with the Student Health Advisory Board, which consists of three subcommittees of undergraduate and graduate students who address communication, patient-feedback and education.

By Yeonsu Jang

The University of Chicago’s Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) and Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB) held a town hall this past Wednesday. SHAB and SHCS leadership staff reviewed their work from the past year and spoke about their plans to improve services based on a recent student perception survey.

Julie Edwards, director of Health Promotion & Wellness, spoke about new SHCS programs and changes, including Mental Health First Aid Training sessions that will be offered next year and an expansion of Mindfulness Meditation sessions. Jennifer Connor, director of Clinical Operations of Student Health Service (SHS), also said SHS will open its Registered Nurse Clinic that will accommodate 15 more appointments a day.

Many of the changes come largely in response to the results of a recent survey sent out to students assessing the perception of SHCS on campus. In addition to the results reflected in SHCS new programs, the survey showed that students emphasized the need for extended walk-in hours on nights and weekends, online scheduling, and more transparency about University Student Health Insurance (U-SHIP).

David Albert, the director of Student Counseling Service (SCS) said survey results showed LGBTQ+, minority and international students use counseling services the least. He said that in the last year SCS has hired several psychologists with expertise in LGBTQ+, minority and international student populations, and that the SCS will add Mandarin and Portuguese to the list of languages in which it can provide psychotherapy. He also encouraged students to use SCS even in situations they do not believe are dire.

Edwards said Health Promotion & Wellness will enhance their Better Together campaign which aims to expand programs for graduate students in response to the survey. Health Promotion & Wellness is also looking for ways to better market its services, according to the meeting, and to create more targeted emails for students.

Health Promotion & Wellness will begin to offer Mental Health First Aid Training after two successful pilot runs in October and April. It will also expand Mindfulness Meditation, which is currently offered four times a quarter with new staff.

Representatives of the Advisory Board, consisting of students from the College and graduate divisions, and of faculty and members of the administration, also spoke at the meeting. Of the three subcommittees that address communication, patient-feedback, and education, the communication subcommittee shared suggestions and overall positive feedback on SHCS's revamped website, which combines four previously different websites: SHS, SCS, Health Promotion & Wellness and Insurance. A representative of the education sub-committee also said the committee is working on a newsletter to inform the community on their initiatives, such as SHCS’s new medical director and trauma center.

For future feedback, Edwards said SHCS will utilize the Campus Needs Assessment to better understand students’ needs.