University Counseling Services expands with new initiatives, partnerships
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – In response to student-identified needs, University Counseling Services has been expanding services and forming new partnerships in order to best serve University of Wisconsin-Platteville students. This year, the department has been focused on strengthening existing processes to provide an expansion of group counseling services and increased availability for crisis response.
Jason Artz, counselor at University Counseling Services, has served UW-Platteville students since 2011 and is a facilitator for the “Mindful Way through Depression” group this semester. Artz believes that students are using group counseling services more than in the past because of the changes that have been made to the service.
“University Counseling Services hired an additional counselor last spring, and one of the focuses the new counselor is in charge of is putting more time and energy into improving our group process,” Artz said. “In the student feedback that we received, students said that they would be likely to attend if there were groups for anxiety and depression.”
The new counselor, Rebecca Johnson, is also serving UW-Platteville as a liaison to the Department of Athletics in addition to the counselors who have been serving as liaisons to the colleges of EMS, LAE and BILSA. Artz said that after successful collaborations between the two departments in the past, it was a natural transition to offer additional mental health and wellness resources for student-athletes.
“Student-athletes make up a large population of students on campus, and these students have additional obligations and stress that they have to balance,” Artz said. “It has been nice working with that department because they have been so open to collaborating with us.”
Along with the addition of another counselor at University Counseling Services, the department has continued expanding the availability to respond to students in distress. University Counseling Services adjusted its scheduling in order to accommodate more time-sensitive services for students presenting in distress, which has been done through triage. Each day, one counselor has a block of time that is designated for students who may present with immediate distress.
Artz said these triage services are important to fulfilling the mission of University Counseling Services, and since the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, the usage of triage services has increased by 159 percent. While multiple factors could account for the increase, Artz said they hope it is partially due to a decrease in the stigma that surrounds mental health concerns.
“Hopefully the increase is in part due to work that we are doing in our program to help change the culture that we have on campus surrounding mental health,” Artz said. “We want students to know it’s actually good to reach out for help and that someone is there for them when they need help.”
University Counseling Services is also working in conjunction with the Southwest Wisconsin Behavioral Health Partnership through Southwest CAP and Wisconsin Medical Colleges. This program is grant-funded and aims at increasing availability, accessibility and acceptability of mental/behavioral health services in Southwest Wisconsin.
“The department has been working with other programs and individuals across Southwest Wisconsin to help out in any way that we can,” Artz said. “We have already been working on the ‘Stomp Out Stigma’ campaign on campus, and our goal is to share that with others.”
This partnership brings counselors, community members, people with lived experience, and professionals in a variety of fields together from around the area to discuss mental health concerns that are the most prevalent or rising in their respective communities. In the future, University Counseling Services hopes to use the “Honest, Open, Proud” training offered through the grant to help support students who would like to share their mental health stories to reduce stigma. The grant will span five years, and Artz predicts that University Counseling Services should have a number of opportunities to contribute to the work of the grant and help strengthen mental health services not only on campus, but in Southwest Wisconsin as a whole.
University Counseling Services is the primary source of mental health counseling for students at UW-Platteville. To view all of the services that University Counseling Services provides, visit www.uwplatt.edu/counseling.
Written by: Dalton Miles, Student Writer, Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
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