FAU among 8 Florida universities short on mental health counselors


Eight of the 12 state universities fall below minimum staffing levels for mental-health counselors as the need for counseling services grows on campuses, a new report shows.

The university system’s Board of Governors, which has asked for a $7 million increase in mental-health funding in the 2017-2018 budget, will receive an update on the counseling issue during the coming week, as state lawmakers unveil initial budget plans for the higher-education system.

RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

“As of February 2017, all but four (state university) institutions fall considerably below minimum staffing levels recommended by the International Association of Counseling Services,” the Board of Governors report said.

The association recommends at least one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students. The University of North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, New College of Florida and Florida Polytechnic University meet that standard, the report said.

But three schools — Florida Atlantic University, the University of South Florida and Florida International University — have more than 2,000 students per counselor. FIU is at the top with 2,449 students per counselor.

Florida State University and Florida A&M University have more than 1,900 students per counselor.

“Given the surge in the numbers of students seeking counseling center services as well as the increasing severity and complexity of the mental health issues that students face, the (university system) needs a substantial influx of resources in the short term,” the report said.

The most common issues reported by students using counseling services were anxiety, relationship issues, depression, suicide and academic stress, the report said.

The university counseling centers have dealt with the rising demand through a variety of methods, including limiting the frequency and length of counseling sessions, using waiting lists and referring students to counseling services in the community.

But the report said those are only “short-term” solutions.

“Over time, they will create additional problems such as student dissatisfaction, declining academic success of students, staff burnout and saturation of community resources,” the report said.

This is the second year that the Board of Governors, which oversees the 12 universities, has asked for mental health funding. It has identified a $14 million need but has asked for the money over the next two years in $7 million allotments.

Senate Higher Education Appropriations Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the Senate’s initial higher-education budget, which will be unveiled Tuesday, will include more funding for the state universities, but it will be up to each institution on how to spend that money.

“They have within their discretion the opportunity to fund programs like these,” Galvano said. “There is not a line item in the state budget that says this is specifically for university mental health funding.”

Galvano said universities don’t want the Legislature “to start micromanaging all of their programs” through the state budget.

“We could get to a point where we’re telling them everything they need to do,” Galvano said. “But each university and each (state) college has their own unique attributes either by geography or student population or focus of study and they need that flexibility.”

The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which is expected to proposed cutting state university funding in its initial proposal, will release its 2017-2018 spending plan on Monday.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Democratic candidates for Florida governor square off at debate
Democratic candidates for Florida governor square off at debate

Three of the four Democrats vying to replace Rick Scott as governor of the third-largest state in the nation get their news first from The New York Times, and only one, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, relies on his hometown paper to find out what’s going on in the world. The insight into who’s reading what was among the lighter moments...
Donald Trump makes a rare concession of defeat in eulogizing Barbara Bush
Donald Trump makes a rare concession of defeat in eulogizing Barbara Bush

President Donald Trump speaking at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post) PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump often compares himself to other presidents — and often finds his predecessors lacking. At a joint...
Florida Gov. Scott, Seminoles reach deal on gambling money
Florida Gov. Scott, Seminoles reach deal on gambling money

As legislative leaders hold behind-the-scenes talks about revamping the gambling industry, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday announced a deal that will lead to the Seminole Tribe continuing to pay more than $300 million a year in casino money to the state. The tribe would continue making the payments, which are rooted in a 2010 gambling agreement...
PEACE calls for community IDs, slams commissioners who skipped meeting
PEACE calls for community IDs, slams commissioners who skipped meeting

More than 2,000 people attended a community meeting at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Monday evening, but organizers were miffed that figure wasn’t a little larger. Officials from the social activism group People Engaged in Active Community Efforts called out six of the county’s seven commissioners for skipping the gathering, saying...
Busy Twitter morning at Mar-a-Lago as Trump-Abe summit continues
Busy Twitter morning at Mar-a-Lago as Trump-Abe summit continues

President Donald Trump arriving at Palm Beach International Airport on Monday. (Melanie Bell/The Palm Beach Post) Before he begins the second day of an international summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump has confirmed a top-secret meeting between CIA Director...
More Stories