Virginia Tech taking new approach to mental health resources on campus

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 4:24 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia Tech is making a concerted push to improve mental health among students.

“With as large of a campus as Virginia Tech is, we had to do something to make it easier for students to access us,” said Angela Ryan, one of four new counselors just hired by the university.

Instead of being stationed at the Cook Counseling Center, the new counselors have been placed at colleges around the campus.

Ryan is in the Pamplin College of Business, another counselor is in the College of Engineering, another in Science, and the fourth is at Tech’s Northern Virginia campus.

“Students in different majors are going to face different challenges, just because of the nature of what they’re doing,” said Ryan.

“We can develop a specialization in what it’s like to be an engineer, what’s it’s like in the college of business, or science, or whatever college, and be more knowledgeable about the services those students need,” added Ellie Sturgis, the director of the Cook Counseling Center.

The idea behind this new counseling structure came from a mental health task force founded in 2018 after the Cook Counseling Center saw a 43% increase in demand from 2013 to 2017.

“We keep increasing every year and particularly since the pandemic, we’ve got a lot more students coming for services,” said Sturgis. “It’s hard to do good academic work when you’re dealing with anxiety, depression or a mental health condition, and so providing early access to deal with those problems helps the overall success of a student in college.”

Additional colleges have already expressed interest in adding embedded counselors and the University has pledged to embed five additional counselors in residence halls next school year.

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