Davenport University expands free counseling services for students as mental health needs rise

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — In response to the growing need for mental health services for students, Davenport University recently announced it has expanded its offerings with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services on all campuses.

“In response to student needs, we’re launching a new partnership with Pine Rest to offer all Davenport University students – regardless of their home campus – one-on-one confidential counseling services free of charge,” President Richard Pappas said in an Oct. 1 press release.

The increased mental health offerings with Pine Rest include free, confidential counseling to students – including same-day support. This new service is at no additional cost to students, as it is built into the cost of tuition.

Pine Rest is offering fall semester counseling exclusively through teletherapy. The university expects to continue onsite appointments at their W.A. Lettinga Campus in January or once social distancing requirements are lifted.

Davenport University has seen an increase in demand among students seeking counseling services in the past few years, in line with the national trend.

According to a study from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University, between the fall of 2009 and spring of 2015 demands for campus counseling has grown nationally at five to six times the pace of enrollment.

Pre-pandemic CDC data shows rising levels of depression and anxiety among 15-to-24-year-olds has contributed to a 51 percent increase in suicide rates in this age group over the past 10 years.

During the time of COVID-19, many students face additional stress and uncertainty. While actions like social distancing are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC reports they can also make people feel isolated and lonely which in turn can increase anxiety and stress levels.

“We want students to reach out for support if they are feeling overwhelmed,” said Pappas. “The day-to-day stresses of college life can be challenging, and the current pandemic has thrust students into uncharted school, home and work life situations.”

Pine Rest clinicians will provide assessment and treatment services, including therapy at all university locations, drop-in appointments at the W.A. Lettinga Campus, student trainings, group therapy, crisis response and more.

Due to the new partnership, students will all receive the same benefits – including up to 12 teletherapy sessions – regardless of their home campus, said Kassy Clark, Campus Life coordinator.

Students will also have access to a 24/7 same-day support line. Clark said on-call counselors will be available to provide service within a 60-minute period, especially helpful for those who may be in between sessions and need additional support.

Clark suggests students take advantage of this new opportunity and to participate in more than one therapy session as they find a therapist that works well for them. She also suggests students attend therapy regularly, even when they are feeling well.

“To have some extra support through the trials and tribulations of what college life brings is a huge benefit,” said Clark.

“So, then on those hard days … you already have some really good tools in your back pocket that you’re able to utilize to get through those tough days and then sail through easily through those good days.”

In addition to counseling, Pine Rest also has online resources on various topics including parenting during COVID-19, stress management tips and setting realistic expectations during challenging times.

Davenport’s Center for Campus Life Student Affairs team is also available to assist students with unplanned crisis including a death in the family, short-term illness and other life stressors that impact student success.

Since the beginning of COVID-19, Clark said their Campus Life team has responded to a lot of wellness requests and those for overall assistance to students who have unique situations.

“(We’ll) work in partnership with those students to make sure that they can still reach their academic goals and can be successful as a student even when barriers do come up.”

Davenport also has registered student organizations focused on mental wellbeing, a meditation and sensory room available during exam week and yoga events throughout the year.

Students may reach out to campus.life@davenport.edu for non-counseling support.

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