Students looking for help with depression

By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke

Thirty percent of college students suffer from severe depression that impairs daily function, and those affected should seek help immediately, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But for depressed students at Duquesne, help can be two to three weeks away.

The Duquesne Counseling Center, the primary resource for students seeking mental health services, is located on the third floor of Old Main and is open until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

According to DUCC director Ian Edwards, individual and group psychotherapy is offered to students, as well as regularly offered outreach presentations to assist students dealing with anxiety.

Edwards said unless students endorse some level of risk to themselves, they cannot seek immediate assistance. If an emergency arises after office hours, students can call the DUCC office to obtain instructions on how to contact the counselor on-call.

Edwards also said that compared to clinicians in private practice, where the wait time is typically four to eight weeks for non-crisis students, the DUCC’s wait time is good.

According to a transfer student who wished to remain anonymous, the mental health services they received at their previous institution provided them with excellent service. After initially contacting their mental health services an appointment was made in less than 24 hours. Following that initiation meeting they met weekly with a licensed psychologist on campus.

The student expressed disappointment and frustration in hearing the wait time for mental health services at Duquesne was so long.

“I would be extremely irritated and disappointed knowing that efficient service is not provided. If I didn’t receive the excellent service that I did, I would have quit school,” the student said. “Coming from a person that has battled depression before, I feel that negative repercussions could result if organized and efficient service isn’t provided.”

At Carnegie Mellon University, the Counseling and Psychology Center (CAPS) provides many diverse and immediate sources of mental health services for students. There are always intake appointments available on a daily basis and CMU offers a 24/7 phone service that allows students to contact licensed counselors for any type of support.

According to Kurt Kumler, licensed psychologist and CAPS director, “Between all the services here there is enough to address the student’s sub-clinical and clinical needs.”

Edwards said he thinks DUCC would benefit from improvements such as hiring one to two more staff members and enacting the Wellbeing initiative.

“I think that it would be beneficial to bring together the DUCC, Health Services, and Campus Ministry all under the umbrella of Wellbeing to offer a holistic form of treatment that is grounded in both theory and practice, communicating a Mind, Body, Spirit approach to helping students that is congruent with the Mission of the University.” Edwards said in an e-mail.

In addition to the services provided by the DUCC, students can also take advantage of the Psychology Clinic in Rockwell. According to clinic director Jessie Goicoechea, the Clinic is a primary training facility for the doctoral students in the clinical psychology program and an additional resource for DUCC. The clinic is open to students, staff and the general public.

Goicoechea said the Clinic sees approximately 150 regular clients, one-third of which are Duquesne students. Students can pay a discounted rate of $10 per session. The approximate wait time for scheduling sessions is one month.

Although the Clinic is not an emergency service center, Goicoechea said that if students need immediate help, they try their best to accommodate so a student could speak to a student therapist for 15 minutes to one hour and then schedule accordingly or receive a referral.

“We hope to address the concerns a client brings and aim to assist working through that [depression] with them,” Goicoechea said.

Goicoechea said the wait time is not unreasonable compared to other service providers.

The Rev. Dan Walsh, Campus Ministry assistant director and outreach coordinator, said the ministry provides students with the option to schedule meetings or drop by to discuss issues such as homesickness, school troubles and arguments with friends. Campus Ministry does not specialize in counseling services, but is very available if students want to have a conversation. If students come to Campus Ministry with serious issues, they are referred accordingly.