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February 21, 2014

Health and Counseling administrators address student concerns

In another installment of its Leadership Conversation series, Student Government hosted an open forum with the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) team Wednesday evening in the McCormick Tribune Lounge.

Alex Lickerman (M.D. '92), assistant vice president of SHCS, led the event with a presentation detailing the services and events offered by the SHCS departments: Student Health Service (SHS), Student Counseling Service (SCS), and Health Promotion and Wellness.

The presentation also emphasized the volume of students that SHCS serves. For the 2012–2013 school year, the SHS had a total of 21,296 visits. SCS visits totaled 13,177, with daytime emergencies at 1,358 and evening and weekend emergencies at 248—both have also been found to be on the rise, according to Lickerman.

Lickerman said that at least 90 percent of respondents answered positively to each question asked in a survey given to patients. Out of those given the survey, 146 students chose to submit their responses.

Prior to the event, students submitted questions via a Google Moderator page, and the panelists answered the top five highest voted questions.

One student, through Google Moderator, asked about the concerns faced by some students covered by the University Student Health Insurance Plan (U-SHIP) who are opposed to paying for a plan that covers the costs of abortion services.

“The truth is [that] there’s no insurance plan that [does] not provide abortion services…you don’t get to choose insurance services. So there’s no alternative,” Lickerman said.

The panelists were also asked if they have plans to offer weekend hours, as students tend to be less available on weekdays, when SCS is open. SHS began offering Saturday walk-in hours this fall.

“This is a resource question…. I’m not aware yet of how to help solve that,” said SCS Director David Albert.

The panelists answered a question about how SCHS and the University as a whole feel they are approaching the issue of students’ stress.

“We have a responsibility to educate students about stress,” Lickerman said.” We have to approach the problem at both ends which is [that] the faculty needs to be aware of the atmosphere they are creating, and students need to be aware and responsible for managing the stress.”

Another question posted on Google Moderator asked: “Everyone pays the Student Life Fee. SCS is subsidized by those who don’t use the service for those who do. Often SCS cannot meet the long-term needs of its patients, and they must pay out of pocket elsewhere. Who, then, is SCS aimed at?”

In response, Albert said, “We’re a robust counseling service, but like any counseling service, our resources are not limitless…. Our services are meant for any students who really need to be seen tomorrow. It’s true that we can’t provide open-ended continuous service. So what we do is cultivate a referral network in Hyde Park. We work hard to maintain relationships with providers.”

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