A call for change at Campus Health Services

Campus Health Services provides multiple programs for students to improve their mental health, Feb. 13. 

Campus Health Services is the on-campus resource for students to receive professional medical attention, as well as a variety of other services ranging from physical to psychiatric health. According to the Campus Health Services (CHS) website, the program offers medical services and a variety of counseling and mental health resources. Aiming to meet the protocols of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CHS has undergone many changes, but students are left to wonder if enough is really being done. 

Senior Alyssa Farnsworth works for CHS as a Blue Clinic student. She does check-ins and check-outs for NAU’s Blue Clinic, the health clinic on campus. Farnsworth talked about her experiences throughout the years with CHS. She said CHS has various health resources including the Mental Health Support Squad and interactive activities like Paws for Stress. 

“Campus Health provides psychiatry and counseling to students at a discounted rate, which is really nice because it is only $25 per counseling session for students,” Farnsworth said. “They just have to do an evaluation beforehand, and then, they assign them to a counselor. Most counselors are able to meet people every two weeks.”

Farnsworth said appointments are being held through Zoom for the safety of students and the professionals. 

However, Farnsworth said Campus Health can adapt their practices to better accommodate the strenuous lifestyle of college students. One of the biggest changes Farnsworth noted is the cost for many of the services provided on campus.

CHS requires insurance from most students attempting to get counseling. This requirement severely limits some students from being able to access medical attention or mental health services if they were truly in need. Farnsworth also mentioned that CHS does not accept Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which restricts students who have insurance through the state. AHCCCS offers health care programs to Arizona residents. 

“I think that counseling services should be free to students,” Farnsworth said. “I don’t think that it should cost anyone any money. Like even for me, $50 a month if you are going to appointments every two weeks at $25 an appointment. That still costs more money for me than to eat or do different things.”

Another area where Farnsworth advocated for a greater change was in the accessibility of mental health resources. Although CHS offers a variety of different mental health resources, the hours when they are available are often limited and fail to fit into the lifestyle of a college student.

“I definitely think there should be more access and availability,” Farnswoth said. “Maybe that’s having counselors in the halls once a week or having resources for students that are more accessible and closer to where they live. Also, not just during the nine-to-five business hours because [students] have school and most of us have work, so we can’t access it during the nine to five.”

The mental health resources on campus have become even more important during COVID-19 as students struggle to continue with pressures of a pandemic. The feelings of anxiety and isolation continue to plague college students as they face an uncharted future, so the ability for students to access mental health resources is imperative.

As the pandemic continues, CHS has had to modify their operations, which resulted in the loss of many in-person resources and student favorite events. The website has become a resource for students to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and on-campus procedures for dealing with it. 

Freshman Aleah Rivas detailed her experience about having COVID-19 and how CHS dealt with her situation. 

“My experience with Campus Health [Services] was actually really poor,” Rivas said over Instagram’s direct messages. “My roommate tested positive for COVID and I wanted to be moved to quarantine immediately. I stayed in my dorm for two days with my roommate, who was positive, because Campus Health took forever to move us.”

Rivas said she was also refused a rapid test although she had been exposed to her roommate for an extended period of time who had tested positive. Her situation worsened after she was placed in a quarantine dorm with a positive patient after she had received two contradicting tests, Rivas said. 

As the situation continued to progress, Rivas said she felt as though the communication between her and CHS was lacking and causing her to feel even more confused as the case continued unfolding. She struggled to find the necessary information to stay informed to know what the next best step would be. 

“If I could’ve changed anything with Campus Health, I would have changed how they dealt with my situation,” Rivas said. “I felt like at the time no one was really answering my questions that I honestly needed answers to because I was scared about everything that was happening.” 

Rivas went on to say although she would have changed the level of communication she had received, she believes CHS does have good resources available for students and treats their COVID-infected patients well as a whole. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect NAU students, it is important CHS finds ways to better communicate the procedures to students, Rivas said. This will not only help those dealing with an intense situation find relief, but better prepare students for a potential emergency situation.

CHS provides services for students on campus through its building located in the Health and Learning Center, as well as a variety of online resources. The program is continuing to evolve to better enhance the Lumberjack lifestyle.