UW counseling services in high demand, accessibility shown to keep students enrolled

There has been a years-long increase in students seeking mental health services on campus.
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 2:06 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - University of Wisconsin System students’ demand for UW counseling remains high, and accessibility to these services remains crucial in keeping students enrolled in their universities, according to the UW System, and the most recent Counseling Impact Assessment Report for the 2020-21 academic year.

More than 18,000 University of Wisconsin System students reported staying enrolled in their university after obtaining counseling. Four out of five who considered dropping out over the last eight years said that the counseling they received helped them stay enrolled.

“We have made mental health a priority on our campuses, and we know students are heavily reliant on services our universities provide,” UW System President Tommy Thompson said. “But there remains unmet need, and we are going to seek help from the governor and the legislature to partner with us to expand our capacity.

More than 80% of University students who received counseling at their universities during the last academic year reported improvements in well-being, according to the Counseling Impact Assessment Report. The report also showed the continued need for mental health services.

“Telehealth has been a useful alternative during the pandemic, but our surveys show students prefer in-person counseling,” Thompson said. “Having more counselors will help us provide more in-person counseling to meet demand.”

There has been a years-long increase in students seeking mental health services on campus. Though demand dropped by 7.5% during the 2020-21 school year, the UW System alleges this is likely due to the accessibility issues faced during the pandemic, the UW System said.

Thompson asked for $10 million in the latest state budget to hire more counselors, however; the request was not approved.

Other findings in the report according to the UW system:

  • Students seeking counseling were more likely than in previous years to say they had a hard time focusing on academics.
  • Two of every three students said their academic focus improved after counseling.
  • More than 90 percent of students seeking counseling said they would return and recommend counseling.
  • After some improvement the last few years, the student-counselor ratio worsened to 1,533:1, which is greater than the 1,000:1 recommendation.

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