Winona State temporarily solves counseling crisis

Rachel Hollcraft, News Reporter

Oct. 23, Winona State University’s Student Senate (WSUSS) released an issue motion in response to student complaints about the inadequate counseling services available at Winona State.

The motion, signed by WSUSS president Ben Ellgen, provided ample evidence for the recommended hiring of additional counselors, citing statistics such as the fact that 39% of students have a significant mental health issue, and suicide being the second leading cause of death for 18 to 24-year-olds.

Winona State administration responded to the motion by hiring two additional counselors; one part-time, and the other full-time. In addition, Winona State Counseling Services has implemented a six-session-per-semester limit for students.

Winona State Counseling and Wellness Services has always been a short-term counseling center, however students had been having difficulty getting an appointment within a month of their first request to see a counselor.

Eunie Alsaker, a counselor at Winona State, said that although this is the first time that a six-session rule has been put into place, the reality is that students rarely reach six sessions.

“It was decided to go from a six-session rough guideline to a six-session spring-semester limit, in order to address the wait time students experienced last semester,” Alsaker said. “We will re-evaluate this after the semester.”

Winona State Counseling Services is also designed to help students find a long-term plan outside of university resources for mental health issues if the need arises.

“Even with additional staff, we don’t plan to switch to a long-term counseling center, as we have never been one,” Alsaker said. “Students with such needs will continue to be referred off-campus.”

While students currently attending Winona State are able to see a resolution to the counseling staffing crisis on campus, Ellgen pointed out that the decision, and ability, to employ two additional counselors has been a long time coming.

“This is something that we’ve been working on for two and a half years now,” Ellgen said. “So it is really exciting to see these changes and to see the improvements that have been made.”

 

The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.