Roughly a year later, the Mental Health Task Force’s recommendations for improving of student wellbeing are beginning to be implemented.
One example of these is the OneGT initiative, which was intended to promote a unified campus culture. The initiative has been integrated into this fall semester’s GT 1000 classes.
“We hope that eventually, with a number of programs like this, all of Tech’s mental health resources can be connected,” said Dr. Hughes-Troutman, Coordinator for Outreach and Professional Development at Counseling.
“One of our major goals regarding accomplishing that specifically is the formation of a Wellness Center,” Hughes-Troutman said. “It would be a big help in allowing necessary interaction between the different treatment resources around campus….”
This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Jason Braun, a counselor and the Counseling Center who described how a Wellness Center would provide space for programs such as Peer Counseling.
“We are really hoping to de-stigmatize the concept of seeking help for mental health issues with this program,” Braun said.
“We’ve looked at certain models from other universities and are excited about moving forward with this program, especially due to the significant amount of support and interest received from students who want to get involved.”
With an anticipated start date later this semester, students wishing to become peer counselors will undergo an application process followed by extensive training.
Understandably, some students will feel greater discomfort talking about mental health issues with their peers rather than experienced professionals. For this reason, according to Braun, the Peer Counseling program will not replace the standard counseling.
The goal of stress reduction from the task Force has been difficult to ascertain thus far, according to Braun.
“Depression and anxiety have been and will continue to be major priorities for the counselors here at Tech,” said Hughes-Troutman.
Counseling has recently hired two new counselor positions to assist with the objectives of the task force. They also filled two vacant positions in the center.
“The real objective with acquiring a larger counseling staff is for us to become more preventative in nature,” Braun said. “We are really looking to recognize signs of distress before they manifest themselves into major problems.”
Counseling has claimed a number successes from the recommendations from the Mental Health Task Force. More time may be necessary to examine how the all of the programs will play out.