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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Students Concerned About Wait Time For Counseling Services

Some USC students are disappointed with how long it takes to see a health counselor on campus. ATVN's Stassy Olmos spoke to the USC counseling center to find out more about student concerns.

Britanny Brazil is a freshman at USC from Washington D.C. 

"I’m obviously really far from home and just like the stress and homesickness was starting to be a problem, so I just like wanted to talk to someone about it," Brazil said.

Brazil said she called the USC counseling center looking for that someone and what she found was a month-long waitlist.

"She said that the wait list to see someone, to have an in person meeting would be over a month, but that puts us out of school, so like that obviously didn’t make any sense," Brazil said.

She was then told she could see a list of other doctors off campus with USC health insurance, but even after asking, she never received that list.

"I’m seeking out that kind of stuff so that I don’t get to the point where I would need a crisis center," Brazil said. "I called the counseling center to see if they would consider being homesick as urgent… they told me the next available over the phone consultation would be tomorrow at 1:30pm and if they then decide it’s urgent, they would have me come in. If not, they said it would be about a two- to three-week wait for them."

Dr. Ilene Rosenstein is the director of counseling services at USC.

"The demand is exceeding the number of slots that we have currently so there is a wait at times, not always, like right now there’s no wait for an initial appointment," Rosenstein said.  

She added that the wait for non-emergencies is never much longer than three weeks during their busiest times.

"You can imagine it takes a lot of courage to come into the counseling center and then to have to wait three weeks... 'My crisis has past'... People pass on and say how frustrating that is and we’re trying to change that," Rosenstein said.

Administrators from colleges across the nation came together Monday at a USC symposium to address how to best handle mental health on college campuses. Elyn Sak, the founder of the Sak Institute for Mental Health, Law, and Policy Ethics organized the symposium.

"Students being healthy is important for them to thrive in school, to make progress to work," Sak said.  

The new USC Provost, Michael Quick, was a guest speaker at the symposium.

"The largest issue that our student affairs group faces on campus is this issue of mental health and we need to figure out how to deal with it," Quick said. 

Rosenstein said USC is doing a phenomenal job, but there is still more that can be done.

"Universities across the nation are recognizing it's not just enough to train our students academically but we really have to develop the full person and at USC that’s always been a part of our mission," Rosenstein said.

And Brazil isn't going to give up just yet.

"I didn’t get the sense that like people didn’t care, or like the doctor that I talked to didn’t care, it was just like the follow through didn’t really surface," Brazil said.

There are other resources for students at USC struggling with stress and other challenges; they include Mindful USC, the Institute for Integrated Health, and various religious organizations.

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