Student health fees expected to rise next fall

The Title IX Advocates office is located inside the Student Health and Counseling Center on campus. (Larry Valenzuela/ The Collegian)

Student health fees will increase by $26 a semester starting in fall 2020.  

According to Student Affairs, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro approved the Student Health and Counseling Center’s fee increase proposal on April 30, 2019. 

The health fee will increase by $26 a semester, or $52 a year, for the first year, and continue to increase by 3 percent each year for the next five years until it is reviewed again, according to Janell Morillo, associate vice president of student health, counseling and wellness. Currently, student health fees cost students $226 a year. With the increase, students will be paying $278 a year in health fees beginning next fall. 

These additional funds will provide counseling and psychological services with an additional two counselors and one case manager, raising the total number to 11 counselors and two case managers. 

The additional personnel will help to combat wait times and provide students with more available appointment times. 

Malia Sherman, director of counseling and psychological services, said the speed at which a student can be seen by a counselor at the health center depends on both the availability of the counseling staff and the availability of the student. Often, with students having busy schedules, the times they have free for an appointment don’t match up with the appointment times the counseling center has available. 

“Another factor that comes into play is time in the semester,” said Sherman. “Typically right around midterm time, people have more stress, so we get more impacted.” The additional counselors and case manager should help alleviate this, she said. 

The center has only had one case manager for the last three years. The additional case manager will help students with more basic needs that they were previously bringing to counselors, such as homelessness, access to healthcare and even financial difficulties. 

The additional counselors will be able to help provide long- term care for students dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns. 

Long wait times and a lack of availability of appointments can have a negative impact on students, said Karl Oswald, a professor in the department of psychology.

“My suspicion is that it [appointment unavailability] discourages students from going to the health center,” he said.

However, students in crisis can be seen within the hour. 

As for students who have short-term or one-time concerns and need immediate support but aren’t able to make an appointment, there is another option provided by Counseling and Psychological Services. Let’s Talk is a daily service that allows students to talk with a licenced counselor without making an appointment. The counselors are the same ones students would meet with if they had made an appointment.  

Let’s Talk allows students to walk in and talk with someone about their concerns on the spot, and get the support and encouragement they need. The program is designed so that students feel comfortable to open up and share their concerns. Let’s Talk is available every day, Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in Industrial Technology Room 242 and Kremen Education Building Room 334.

Oswald also likes to spotlight Let’s Talk in his classes at the end of each semester, as a valuable resource for students to turn to during the stress of finals. 

Suzzane Kotkin-Jaszi, a health professor at Fresno State, said, “I find that it [counseling and psychological services] is a very valuable resource to have on campus. I have students, even graduate students, who sometimes are rather depressed it seems. I’ve had people who cry and are acting out, saying how depressed they are, and when I’ve sent them over there they’ve gotten served immediately, pretty much, if they’re in that state. So I’m frankly glad we have a resource like that on campus.”

With additional counselors and case manager, the fee increase will provide additional support and will help make Counseling and Psychology Services more available to students. 

The program provides additional services for students, such as group therapy, a three-session skill class that teaches students how to deal with stress and anxiety, and other mental health resources, all of which are highlighted on the health center website. 

For more information on the Student Health and Counseling Center, visit their webpage at http://www.fresnostate.edu/studentaffairs/health/ 

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