Amy M. Lenhart, MA, LPC, NCC, Chair and Editor of the ACCA Community College Survey
ACCA has supported a third survey which continues to gather important benchmark data for the community college arena. Although students in all areas of higher education continue to face mental health challenges, there continues to be differences in how counseling services are delivered.
Severity of mental health concerns continues to rise at both the four year and two year college level. The ACCA Community College Survey reveals that 67% of counseling centers describe the intensity and severity of clinical issues are higher, yet 86% do not have on-site psychiatry. According to the 2012 Gallagher survey, 57% of four year schools have on campus psychiatry. Many community colleges are unable to fund such services with decreased spending efforts in their states as well, and many mental health services in communities drying up. Community college counselors often have to come up with creative collaborations with community’s to find psychiatric assistance for their students at times.
Another important difference is the different roles that many community college counselor’s are expected to play. Counselor’s in both two year and four year colleges provide different tasks however, the survey revealed that 57% of two year college counselor’s provide academic advising, as well as splitting time in other areas, in addition to their counseling duties. Continuing to provide student’s the services that they need with differing role expectations, may make it challenging for community college counselor’s to adequately attend to students with the ever increasing severity in mental health issues, and increased enrollment and staff shortages. There may need to be a paradigm shift in how services are viewed and provided.
With the ever growing enrollment at community colleges, and funding shortages, counselors who work with student’s will continue to face challenges in providing the services that students need to thrive and cope with mental health concerns and academia. ACCA will continue to support counselors at community colleges by continuing to gather valuable data with the Community College Survey, and I would also like to thank Jon Edwards at Mass Bay Community College for his valuable collaboration.