Beginning in September 2008 we administered an on-line survey of student satisfaction with Student Counseling Services along with a separate survey of staff, faculty, and administration.
As of February 2009, 182 students from all four colleges had completed the survey. Overall, this sample was representative of the larger University population regarding sex, age, and race, although medical students and younger students may have been somewhat overrepresented while nursing and the oldest students may have been somewhat underrepresented in the sample.
As of February 2009, 137 staff and faculty members had responded to the survey. Eighty-one percent of respondents were faculty members but members of University staff, administration, and police also participated.
The following is a brief overview of our survey results and the ways in which we plan to use your feedback to improve our services.
Student Survey Results
Satisfaction with Student Counseling services is very high.
Of the students using our service, 82% rated themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with a mean satisfaction rating of 5.3 on a 6-point scale.
Most respondents who have used our services rated the service as helpful, the quality of care very good, and themselves as likely to very likely to return for services if needed. They also rated themselves as likely to very likely to refer friends. Additionally, they indicated that they found Student Counseling services easy to access and were satisfied with the length of waiting time before their initial appointment.
Students are largely aware of Student Counseling service and feel positively about using the service based on information they have received.
Nearly 90% of all respondents had heard about Student Counseling services prior to the survey and over half felt that the information they received about Student Counseling made it more likely that they would utilize the service. All survey respondents who had visited our website found it to be accurate and 96% found it to be useful.
Many Upstate students have a history of prior mental health treatment and many are currently receiving such services.
Almost 1/3 of students responding to our survey indicated a history of mental health treatment prior to coming to Upstate. Overall 28% of students who responded to our survey are currently receiving some form of mental health treatment.
Overall, the most commonly reported problem by students was “stress management.”
When examined by college, the most commonly reported concerns were:
- Medicine: Stress management, time management, procrastination, obsessive thinking/worry and loneliness.
- Health Professions: Stress management, instability of mood; obsessive thinking/worry, problems with romantic partner, time management.
- Graduate Studies: Stress management, obsessive thinking/worry, perfectionism, instability of mood, questions about career choice
- Nursing: Weight management, procrastination, stress management, lack of motivation, time management
The 5 most common barriers to seeking Student Counseling services for students across colleges related primarily to concerns about stigma and time investment required for counseling:
- The possibility of running into classmates/faculty at the counseling center
- The time and energy it would take to be in treatment
- What other students might think about the student going for help
- The office hours not fitting into the student’s schedule
- Not being allowed to take time off from rotations/clinics
Several aspects of the perceived culture of medicine/healthcare discourage students from using mental health services.
More than half of the students surveyed feel that the culture of medicine/health care is such that they feel they must appear strong and not show vulnerability. This was particularly the case for medical students surveyed, though students from all colleges agreed to some degree.
Prefer email as a means of communication
- Students overwhelming (90%) stated that email is the best means of communication.
Want workshops and educational programs
- Across colleges, the majority of respondents (61%) indicated that they would participate in educational programs such as workshops on reducing test anxiety, coping with stress/anxiety/depression, meditation/relaxation, and conflict resolution—especially if they have a practical focus.
Are not interested in group therapy
- Students across colleges overwhelmingly (82%) responded that they would not participate in group therapy. Students cited issues of privacy and stigma when asked why. The few students in support of group therapy indicated that they thought it might be helpful to see that others have problems too and that they might benefit from watching others work through their issues.
Want more flexible hours
- As a whole, it seems that students prefer evening hours for counseling (i.e., 51% preferred to be seen between 5pm and 7pm). However, this is not the case for all colleges. Nursing students expressed an equal preference for morning (9am to noon) and evening appointments. Students in the college of Health Professions indicated an equal preference for afternoon (noon to 5pm) and evening appointments. In Graduate Studies, students tended to favor evening appointments, but a significant portion were in favor of afternoon and morning appointments as well. Those in the College of Medicine were most heavily weighted toward afternoon and evening appointment
Are unaware or concerned about the location of SCS
- The majority of students responding to this survey (59%) do not know where Student Counseling is located. Of those who did know, 28% felt the location raised concerns about privacy (running into other students or faculty) and stigma (being seen as a person receiving counseling services). Some students also noted concern with distance from campus as well as driving and/or parking issues.
Prefer on-campus services
- Although students expressed some concern about the on-campus location due to the risk of being identified as a student receiving counseling services (i.e., being seen coming to an appointment), 75% of survey respondents indicated that they prefer to receive mental health services on-campus versus through an outside provider.
Want follow-up contact after treatment has ended
- In general, students who have used our services in the past felt that it was at least somewhat important (76%) for the therapist or the Director/Assistant Director to check in after services ended.
Staff/Faculty/Administration Survey Results
Faculty/Staff/Administration satisfaction with our services is very high.
The average satisfaction rating of respondents who have interacted with SCS in the past two years was 5.5 (on a 6-point scale).
Most found it easy to establish contact with SCS and felt that the personnel were helpful. Ninety-two percent rated SCS responsivity and availability as very good to excellent. Most indicated that they would be likely to very likely to contact SCS for future assistance if needed.
Most respondents felt highly uninformed about Student Counseling services.
Most respondents had never visited the SCS website (88%) or seen the SCS brochure (75%). Of those who had, however, the vast majority (97-100%) rated the information as useful.
Many respondents did not know the location of Student Counseling (69%). This included 76% of faculty and 33% of the Student Affairs staff.
Many respondents felt that they did not have the information needed to make a referral to SCS (52%). This is most pronounced in the College of Medicine (62%), although faculty from the COM were also most likely to have made a referral to SCS in the past 2 years (15%). Overall, 77% of survey respondents had not referred any students in the past two years.
Most students are referred to Student Counseling by administration and staff, who are also most frequently in contact with Student Counseling personnel and most likely to refer in the future.
Administration and staff reported the highest rates of student referrals (75% and 58%, respectively). Only 16% of faculty respondents stated that they had made a referral in the last 2 years.
When asked about the likelihood of referring students to SCS in the future, administration and staff members indicated that they were likely to very likely to do so; however, faculty members indicated that they are only somewhat likely to do so.
Twenty-nine percent of all respondents had interacted with Student Counseling personnel in the past two years. Respondents from administration (75%) and staff (79%) had the most contact with Student Counseling. Whereas, only 20% of faculty respondents stated they had contact with Student Counseling personnel.
On average, those who have referred students in the past two years indicated that they refer one student per month for services with the range being one student every couple of years to 5 students per month.
Staff/Faculty/Administration overwhelmingly prefer email as a means of communication.
Eighty-three percent stated that email is the best means of communication. Other suggestions for distribution of information included announcements at Student Affairs Staff meetings and visits by the Director to the departments.
Staff/Faculty/Administration identified what they believe to be the biggest barriers to students getting SCS services:
- Location of services
- Limited hours of operation
- Limited information about services, especially among new faculty
We Hear You!
Our response to your feedback:
We are making improvements to our website.
In addition to sharing these survey results with you, we recently added additional pages to our website including pages on “How to Help a Friend,” “10 Myths about Counseling,” and new and improved directions and a map of our location.
We are now offering follow-up contact for students who end counseling.
We are increasing our visibility on campus and our outreach to the entire campus community through a monthly e-newsletter.
Check your email each month for our news letter to include information, tips, and techniques relevant to all students as they proceed through the academic year. Stay posted on the all the ways in which Student Counseling is active and present on your campus.
We are improving our communication with referral sources.
We are better educating faculty/staff/administration about Student Counseling services.
We are continuing to offer educational programs and workshops.