New Program for Mental Health Support Introduced

Claire McMahon, Scarlet Staff

A new mental health service for students called Protocall, a 24/7 telephonic support system for students, will become available in November.

The Center for Counseling and Personal Growth (CPG) is a crucial dimension to Clark University’s commitment to providing students with essential resources to maintain their personal and academic wellbeing. Many students visit the CPG center to address anxiety and stress, as well as to seek generalized support. Students can also utilize the center for mental health crises and other serious matters.

The demand for the CPG center is incredibly high. This year, approximately 340 students visited the CPG in the first three weeks. The center currently has five full-time and two part-time clinical staff, a psychiatrist who works eight hours a week, an administrative assistant, and eight part-time interns.

The CPG is taking concrete steps to support the significant demand of mental health support and is implementing several new services this year to ensure that students receive the help that they need.

One of these additions is the Therapist Collective, a group of private practice therapists who meet with students in the CPG building in the evenings and on weekends.

Additionally, due to the critical nature of the counseling center, the CPG Student Advisory Board requested last year that Protocall, a 24/7 mental health crisis hotline for students, become available.

Students went to Clark University Student Council (CUSC) meetings to advocate for its funding, brought the proposal to the senior administration, and advocated for its implementation. As a result, the Student Council sponsored a trial period for this resource.

Dr. Megan Kersting, director of the Center for Counseling and Personal Growth is excited for the program and appreciates the initiative that students took to have it implemented. “I love that Clark students are passionate about their mental health. I have worked in other college counseling centers during my career as a therapist, and I have never met students who are as unique, motivated, and committed as Clark students.”

In regards to Protocall, “Clark was able to see that this support for students was well worth the expense,” said Dr. Kersting, referring to the large portion of Student Council’s budget that was allotted to sponsor this new program.

This service provides students with support from professional therapists and is available when the counseling center is closed so that students do not have to wait to receive urgent mental health care. Protocall therapists are certified and highly trained in helping students who are feeling distressed.