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Monday, December 06, 2021

Wisconsin Watch report investigates how UW-Madison, UW system health services keep up with increased demand

Mirroring national and statewide trends, demand for mental health services at UW-Madison increased last year, according to a report published by The Center for Investigative Journalism and written by UW-Madison journalism students.

Counseling visits at UW-Madison increased by 10 percent last year alone, according to the story.

Working to keep pace with the increased demand for mental health services, University Health Services compensates by prioritizing cases by urgency, utilizing a crisis hotline for those with immediate needs, and offering group and drop-in counseling sessions.

Currently, approximately 9 percent of UW-Madison students receive campus counseling or psychiatric services, most for cases of anxiety or depression.

According to their website, UHS limits students to 10 counseling sessions within a calendar year and 20 sessions during the student’s entire academic career. Group counseling sessions have no limit.

But the center reported the limited sessions and wait time between appointments, often as much as three weeks, force some students to seek private, off-campus help. In the story, UHS director Sarah Van Orman said this “poses great barriers” for students who frequently lack health insurance, or do not have coverage in the Madison area.

Angela, a senior who has utilized the campus counseling services since her freshman year, said in her experience UHS has been “incredibly helpful and willing to do anything to help students,” despite growing demand and time constraints.

A random sample found the condition of 85 percent of UW-Madison students receiving mental health services had improved, according to the Center’s article.

Students can also seek help from campus groups, including the National Alliance for Mental Health, Active Minds and Supporting Peers in Laid-back Listening (SPILL).

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