Disappointment in counseling services

It would be difficult to overstate my disappointment in the new policies of Grinnell College counseling services. For those of you who could not or did not read the long, bureaucratic e-mail from Student Health and Counseling Services, now, not only do you have to schedule a counseling appointment days in advance, failing to attend an hour-long appointment now requisites a $200 fine and the missing student “will no longer have access to psychiatric services on campus.”

Is it really so difficult to imagine that a student with mental health concerns might miss an appointment? Why is it necessary to intimidate and browbeat students who may already be hesitant about getting mental health care? Why are the penalties outrageously harsh? Why is it necessary to schedule appointments at all? For some time counselors were available on a walk-in basis. It is particularly ironic that Student Health and Counseling Services claims that these are similar policies to health care providers “beyond college,” because I miss doctor’s appointments all the time and am neither fined $200 nor kicked out of the hospital.

Although these new policies are disingenuously billed as for “our” benefit, the likeliest outcome I can see is that counseling services will now be far less accessible for Grinnell College students. Apparently the convenience of Student Health and Counseling Services is more important than the mental health needs of the campus.