Lehigh students seeking mental health support are using the Lehigh Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as local Bethlehem resources. However, post-pandemic, these resources have proven difficult to find, especially long-term.
Dan Summers, doctoral intern at Lehigh’s Counseling and Psychological Services (UCPS), said their center offers individual therapy sessions and group sessions, in addition to outreach services, such as presentations and tabling events for different student groups and university departments, that promote mental health across campus.
Heather Stires, ‘23, has been using the individual therapy sessions with UCPS and has found them to be helpful.
“For my personal situation, I think it is a fantastic fit,” Stires said. “I Googled it, emailed the person they said to email, got set up with another person pretty quickly, and then I contacted them and made an appointment.”
However, Stires said while UCPS services have given her a space to flesh out what’s on her mind, she doesn’t know how helpful it is for someone dealing with trauma.
Summers said, although UCPS offers many different services, mental health resources are difficult to access.
“Our office was receiving a lot of requests, and we didn’t necessarily always have the availability that we would have liked,” Summers said. “We certainly would have benefited from more resources available. If we had more clinicians, that would free up appointment times and fewer people would be put on waitlists, or the waitlists they’re put on would be less long.”
In addition to waitlists for appointments, UCPS’s indiviual counseling is short-term therapy. There is no hard limit on the number of sessions students get, as it varies by individual counselor, but at a certain point students may be referred to group counseling or outside resources.
This limit is what made Evy Rahmey, ‘23, seek mental health support outside of campus.
“I used the Lehigh counseling service for a few sessions before I found my own therapist that I see on a weekly basis outside of Lehigh,” Rahmey said. “I really liked the Lehigh counseling service, I felt that it was actually a really good resource. The only thing that made me outsource my therapy was the limited amount of sessions that you can have. I was looking for a therapist I could have for as long as I need.”
However, Rahmey said UCPS makes the process of outsourcing easier for Lehigh students by referring them to local Bethlehem mental health providers.
Diane Prosper, a Lehigh alumna and licensed counselor based in Bethlehem, said she has seen an increase in the number of college students coming in for psychiatric evaluations, both through counseling center referrals and individual research to access more services than college counseling centers can provide.
Prosper said that even as a counselor herself, she has been looking for a therapist because burnout rates within the industry are increasing with how many people are currently looking for mental health resources.
“We’ve definitely seen a huge uptick, and unfortunately, with COVID-19, everybody needs some type of service for mental health,” Prosper said. “And there are so few resources out there – whether it be a counselor, a therapist, seeing a psychiatrist – the waitlists for all of these services are extensive, some of them are even months out, and I know college counseling centers have been looking for outpatient resources to refer their students to.”