By Katy Dara
You shouldn’t need a car to get the mental health counseling you need.
Student Health Services agrees; which is why they will be moving from off-campus to a new space on Dutch Quad in January.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the University Department of Facilities Management / Construction on the former Dutch Dining hall, now the planned home of Health Services
“The reason that we are moving is to encourage more access to timely and responsive services for students,” said Dolores Cimini, the director of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research. “In 2008 we moved to Patroon Creek, and what we found in essence has is that created a barrier for many students to access services, particularly for those don’t have a car and can’t drive over to Patroon Creek.”
The move will encompass three health service organizations: the Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research.
The new space will be the renovated former Dutch dining hall, which closed two years ago.
“I haven’t used [the health center]. I made an appointment once but didn’t go because it was too far,” says Lauren Kexel, a junior history major.
Students who are already feeling unwell say they do not want to get up and wait for a bus.
“I have had whole conversations with people who have consistently said that when you don’t feel well physically or mentally, you already don’t have the most energy - and to sum up enough energy to get on a bus takes a lot,” says Sophia Theodorou, a senior studying psychology.
There is another problem with waiting for the bus.
“If you are on the fence, if you really need to seek help or medical attention, that window of waiting for a bus to go to another place leaves a lot of room to change your mind,” Theodorou says.
Theodorou says that students who have slim time slots between classes will cancel the appointment altogether if they don’t think they’ll make it back in time.
Dolores Cimini, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research, cited student demand as driving the administration’s decision to return to campus.
“It really was difficult for many students to get to Patroon Creek in an efficient manner,” she says. “There was certainly [enough] student demand and faculty and staff support for us to move back to campus.”
With Student Health Services on campus again, help is just a walk away.
“It will actually be easier now for faculty to refer students to us and actually walk them over to health services if needed,” Cimini says.
The new Dutch Quad space, in the basement of Schuyler and Beverwyck Halls, is designed specifically for the health services.
“Leadership at the university looked at different spaces that were available, and [Dutch] was really the best match for us,” Cimini says. “It has ample space, it would provide students with access to a ‘one-stop-shop,’ so to speak. It’ll feel very seamless and accessible for students. I anticipate that they’re going to like it very much. It’s truly a beautiful space.”
The new area includes a brand-new meditation room. It will be available for students to sign up for quiet time, meditation, and to get a clear head when under stress.
The new space will be accessible to students at the start of the Spring 2020 semester.
For more information on Student Health Services, visit https://www.albany.edu/health_center/.