Despite the university making mental health a priority, students must wait for appointments at campus clinics

Gabriella Beswick’s emotional support dog, a Yorkshire Terrier named Angel.

David Williams

Abi Hursh — one of many students who attends mental health counseling at Kent State’s main campus — visits the Counseling Center in White Hall once a week to seek treatment for anxiety and depression.

Students who want to schedule a counseling appointment may now find it more difficult because the waitlists for the Counseling Center in White Hall and the Psychological Clinic in Kent Hall are booked through the end of the spring semester. Psychological Services in DeWeese Health Center currently has 12 students waiting for individual appointments with therapists.

“I called to try to get an appointment with DeWeese in late November, and they couldn’t get me in until Jan. 18,” said Hursh, a freshman advertising and visual communication design double major. After calling DeWeese, Hursh scheduled an appointment at White Hall.

Students at Kent State have three main options for mental health care on campus, but whether appointments are available may depend on which facility the student chooses or where the care they seek is most readily provided.

Where to get help on campus:

  • Counseling Center in 325 White Hall: Monday through Wednesday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    • 330-672-2208

  • Psychological Clinic in 114 Kent Hall: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    • 330-672-2166

  • Psychological Services in DeWeese Health Center: Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    • 330-672-2487



The Counseling Center is staffed by graduate students pursuing degrees in the Counselor Education and Supervision graduate counseling program. These students are supervised by professional clinical counselors licensed by the state of Ohio. A phone call to the Counseling Center revealed no appointments are available until the end of the semester—students requesting appointments are placed on a waitlist. The length of time before a slot opens up is subject to change, as some clients may cancel their appointments.

“The counselors and desk staff are very sweet and open-minded. My only concern is how understaffed (the Counseling Center) is,” Hursh said. Her experiences with getting in for an appointment led her to observe, “There’s too little therapists and they usually fill up in the first few days of the new semester.”

Clinical Director Jason Miller was contacted several times for comment via email and by phone, but did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.


The Psychological Clinic, located in Kent Hall, provides counseling and mental health care to all Kent State students. Like the Counseling Center, it is staffed by graduate students pursuing their Ph.D.s, explained Alanna Updegraff, its director, in an email.

“Since our therapists are graduate students, there is a limit to how many clients they can see at a time,” she said. “We do have a waitlist, but it is difficult to predict exactly when the next opening will be. As clients terminate services, therapists will pick up new clients.”

Gabriella Beswick, a senior visual communication design major, found out about the services like those in the Psychological Clinic at Welcome Weekend. She called to schedule an appointment in the spring of 2018, and told them she “was previously diagnosed with anxiety and depression and that I would like to set up an appointment.”

Since the soonest opening was three months away, she ended up not making an appointment with the Psychological Clinic, but instead got an emotional support dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Angel.

Due to the high volume of students scheduling appointments, most students who seek counseling are put on a waitlist.


The third clinic is Psychological Services in Deweese Health Center. Chief Psychologist Pamela Farer-Singleton runs the facility, which currently has 8.4 full-time employees (eight employees work every day, and one employee works two days of the week, focusing primarily on athletes).

Farer-Singleton outlined the resources available to students and how Psychological Services tackles such a high volume of appointments.

“Overall, the health center sees about a third of the campus,” Farer-Singleton said, “so sometimes we see students that have mental health concerns who seek both our physicians, as well as our clinicians, who are mental health providers.”

Where to get help off campus:

  • UHS Nurse Line: 330-672-2326
  • Townhall II Helpline: 330-678-4357 or 330-678-HELP
  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 800-273-TALK or 800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: 741741
  • In cases of emergency, always call 911

When first contacted by a student, they try to get as much information as they can. “Any student who calls or comes in, we see them for a pretty comprehensive intake assessment, which can sometimes go as long as 60 to 90 minutes,” she said.

Counselors use the intake assessment as a way to gather basic information about what problems a student may be facing and any background information or history that contributes to their problems so they can develop a plan of action. Students who have completed their intake assessment are given information and directed to resources most suitable for them.

“Because we have such an influx of requests and such a small staff, we want to try to triage people to whatever would be best for them, given their level of severity,” Farer-Singleton said. “So if a student is at risk for self-harm or isn’t caring for themselves, perhaps they have an eating disorder and they’re frail, or let’s say they have serious depression and they may have thoughts of self harm, we, of course, prioritize them and offer them individual therapy.”

Farer-Singleton defined a student in crisis as someone who:

• Is in danger of harming themselves or someone else

• Cannot care for their basic needs, such as personal hygiene, eating and/or grooming

• Is so distressed, depressed or anxious they can’t get up to go to class

• Isolates themselves and doesn’t engage with other people

• Is failing to meet their health needs, such as caring for diabetes

• Experiences anything that limits or impairs their ability to function as a student 

The clinic accommodates students who walk in or are brought in by faculty, staff or a fellow student. Students who have a higher level of risk are directed to the Coleman Professional Services comprehensive crisis unit in the Sue Hetrick Building next to University Hospitals Portage Medical Center in Ravenna.

“They do a very good job with our students,” Farer-Singleton said. “They let them relax in a quiet and safe setting, they take time to evaluate what’s going on with them and determine whether they will be safe to come back to campus or if they should go home or be hospitalized.”

Farer-Singleton noted there are currently 12 students who have gone through a face-to-face intake assessment and are on the waitlist for individual therapy. Another problem she sees is that roughly 10% of students already scheduled fail to appear for their appointments.

“This is concerning because we do everything we can to remind students to come in,” she said. “When a student calls, we give them the time, we give them the appointment, we give them the day. We tell them to check their health insurance and make sure they have coverage because everyone’s coverage is different. Then we send them an email reminder, which also has instructions to check their coverage, and then we call everyone the day before their appointment.”

Farer-Singleton said the clinic doesn’t have the resources to meet all the demands for individual services immediately. “You need to have enough therapists to meet the needs of your students, but we offer a variety of things to try to support them.”

Mental health statistics for college students:

If a student is not in crisis, they will be directed to other resources that best suit their situation. These include several groups, which meet weekly at DeWeese Health Center and cover a variety of issues, including substance abuse. The clinic also holds three screenings per year to help promote awareness for mental health care.

These screenings look at depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and eating disorders as well as help students identify whether they have a concern which requires additional help.

Counselors meet with students every hour from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. A student will typically meet with a counselor every other week, even though Farer-Singleton said in an ideal situation, students would be seen every week.

The clinic is looking to hire a licensed substance-use specialist and an outreach officer, since those positions became vacant in December.

A Kent State of Wellness initiative

Active Minds, a national nonprofit focused on raising awareness and education for mental health, awarded Kent State a “healthy campus award” in May 2018 because the university hired nine new clinical staff across its eight campuses.

Mental health is one of eight pillars in the Kent State of Wellness initiative, which is intended to raise awareness and promote resources for mental and physical wellness. The other pillars include nutrition, physical activity, alcohol and drug use, safety, preventative care, sexual health and smoking and tobacco use.

In a 2017 interview with KentWired, President Beverly Warren stressed the importance of tackling mental health issues effectively.

“Our concern is to make sure we are attending to some of the mental health issues and support more counselors, more early alerts, more opportunity for students to be aware of what resources do you have to really navigate the stress of your life,” Warren said. “I think it’s a crisis and a concern for all of us in higher (education).”

David Williams is a senior reporter. Contact him at [email protected]