Counseling Center Strengthens Access to Mental Health Services

This year, the Kalamazoo College Counseling Center has been working on changes to its offerings with the goal of providing more equitable access and more tailored services to students when they need it most.

Starting winter term, the center will eliminate its seven-session limit for individual on-campus counseling, instead adopting a more flexible customized clinical care model. This approach helps ensure students receive the amount of support that best suits their needs.

“Having a session limit tends to put pressure on the student to use all the sessions available to them right away, whether they need them all at that time or not. This may not be the best approach for them, and it can also limit availability for other students seeking support,” said Erica Pearson, director of the counseling center. “Some students may only need three sessions to get the support they’re seeking, while some students may benefit from 10 sessions. Some students may come to us looking for coping strategies, get the info they need, and not need us again until later in the year if something else comes up for them. By introducing a customized clinical care model, the staff is better able to address the needs of more students more effectively.”

Another major enhancement for the center was the introduction of its partnership with Uwill this fall. With Uwill telehealth counseling services, students can receive secure and confidential access to a therapist in addition to what is offered on campus. Students can choose a therapist based on their preferences regarding gender, language, ethnicity and focus area; and schedule a session for video, phone, chat or messaging. “I think some people may worry that because it’s telehealth, the level of care is not equivalent to the services we offer on campus. However, that’s not the case. They’ll have access to licensed professionals, just as they would here, and they’ll have an opportunity to choose someone based on their personal preferences,” Pearson said.

Portrait of Counseling Center Director Erica Pearson
Counseling Center Director Erica Pearson, Ph.D., LPC, NCC

In addition to telehealth counseling services, the center’s partnership with Uwill has expanded crisis services with a 24/7 support line staffed by licensed therapists. “It’s important that students know that this is a support line, not just a crisis line. Now students can talk with a licensed therapist any time of day, between academic quarters, when they’re out of town,” said Pearson. With this service significantly expanding student access to on-demand mental health support, the counseling center will be eliminating walk-in hours on campus and utilizing that time for additional pre-scheduled appointments.

“We hope these changes help address an important need at a time when students are really prioritizing their mental health,” Pearson said. “Offering around-the-clock accessibility through Uwill breaks down barriers of time and availability that often hinder access to services, and it allows our staff to dedicate more time to scheduled appointments on campus. And by utilizing a customized clinical care model, the center is better equipped to provide effective, empathetic and personalized care on campus.”