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Wellness Center Leaves Students Wanting More

Nov 16, 2015

Student well-being affects everyone in the NYU community, and the Wellness Center is an integral part of maintaining an undergraduate’s safety and happiness at their home away from home.

NYU’s Wellness Center has won some impressive accolades including the JedCampus seal for innovative mental health programs and with another location recently added to the Brooklyn campus, the university’s student health center seems exceptional.

However, individual students have given the center mixed reviews. CAS senior Jake* said his first experience at the Wellness Center was a drop-in visit, where he met with a counselor almost immediately and had positive results. Yet, he said his latest visit to the center ended poorly after not receiving any help from the staff.

“More recently I went to a drop-in visit again, but after waiting for about 40 minutes, I was told it would be another 15-minute wait, and so I left without meeting anyone,” he said. “I scheduled an appointment and I was given about a 12-day wait.”

Jake also expressed concern that the center is severely understaffed and lacking professional caregivers, and suggests this may impact the quality of counseling students receive. Washington Square News reported in a previous article that while 34 counselors work at the main campus location, only five are certified psychiatrists and only seven are certified psychologists.

CAS sophomore Noelle Kruse was required to meet with a therapist from the Wellness Center after medically withdrawing from classes last spring. Kruse said she felt like she was just a box to check off and said none of the staff members seemed interested in following up with her progress after her withdrawal.

“Throughout my spring and summer withdrawal, I got calls once in awhile from the Wellness Center to check on me, but they were usually a different person every time who didn’t know my case,” Kruse said. “The Wellness Center has been great for treating physical problems, but the mental health side could give their patients a little more attention.”

Several graduate students have also expressed concern about the Center’s quality of care. One graduate student in particular, Jane*, said one of her undergraduate students enlightened her to the state of mental health at NYU.

She said her student confided in her that the counseling she received at the Wellness Center was sub-par, and said the counselor she spoke with was patronizing and asked her to leave before the session was over. In addition, the undergraduate said as she was being guided through the conversation, as though she was hitting a brick wall with the counselor.

“My colleagues and I are always willing to talk to our students,” Jane said. “However, it can be burdensome because we’re not professionals, and we often worry the advice we are offering may not be the best. Someone needs to be there to listen, offer compassion and care about these students.”

Another graduate student, Carmen*, spoke of her personal experience using the 24-hour Wellness Exchange hotline several years ago.

“I had called one night because I was feeling a bit wound-up and thought talking to someone might help calm me down,” Carmen said. “The woman I spoke with was very rude and rather hostile. We had a short conversation, and I immediately called back to speak with someone in charge about my experience. However, I spoke with the same woman who became sarcastic and aggressive.”

Washington Square News was unable to reach a senior staff member at the Wellness Center for a comment, but according to their site, their “commitment is to treat patients with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

*Names in this story were changed to maintain the confidentiality of those quotes.

A version of this story appeared in the Nov. 16 print issue. Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected].

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