By Molly Humiston
Your head feels trapped in an impenetrable fog; maybe it’s a head cold, maybe it’s something more, but either way you’ve gone from class to class, building to building, trying to shake it until your feet, or your internal parent’s nags, land you in the waiting room of Bergeron Wellness Center.
You’re not sure you really want to be there, but in your hands is a single page survey, it’s not even double-sided, asking a simple question through a handful of others: How are you doing?
With a student body of roughly 1,700, nearly half go to Bergeron annually for both student health and personal counseling. According to Mary Masson, the Director of Health Services, 1,588 students have already been to Bergeron this year alone.
This year brought two primary changes for students at Bergeron: increased walk-in availability for all counselors and a Brief Health Screen, which is a general survey completed by all students who make an appointment. The latter offers the Bergeron staff insight into how the student is doing and what might be affecting them beyond what the appointment was made for.
“I think it gives a holistic view of the patient that’s coming in, so whether it be for a counseling appointment or a visit with a nurse practitioner, they can know what outside influences are in the student’s life that may alter their plan of treatment,” said Talia Torkomian ’21, who has gone to Bergeron for both of their services.
The survey screens for substance use, mood, partner violence, and bias, said Kathy Butts, director of counseling, adding that it allows for a greater depth of care in getting to know the student and the outside factors they are dealing with.
It can be “an opportunity to open up a conversation about the fact that [the student] may need something more than the physical issue that brought them initially,” Butts said.
The use of these surveys creates an opportunity to provide the student with a greater benefit through a discussion of their options, both on campus and off, if they need it. “I’ve heard that other people have problems, but I’ve gone for several different reasons and each time has led me in a better direction than beforehand,” said Claire Scherf ’20, who has primarily used the counseling services at Bergeron. She, like other students, was unaware of the walk-in changes, but noted the difficulty some students may have in making appointments “I think it’s a hard thing to initialize, but…you have more choices, flexibility.”
In addition to the change in availability of counselors and the Brief Health Screen, there are two more surveys to be aware of. One is every few weeks through Survey Monkey to a selection of students who have gone to Bergeron to assess general satisfaction, and one will be sent at the end of the semester to those who used the counseling services for feedback on the changes made.
Both surveys offer students the opportunity to provide Bergeron with direct information on what worked and what didn’t, so that services can be better tailored to the needs of students.