Effect of COVID-19 on counseling services




By Emily Driskel, News Editor

Throughout the past two years of quarantining, isolation and mandates, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Counseling and Wellness Services program. Tricia Hughes, the Senior Director, said the amount of people seeking services dropped when the pandemic started. 

“As a team we have talked about why the numbers may have gone down during the first part of the pandemic,” said Hughes. “We suspect it may have happened for several reasons.” 

Hughes said students might have been more comfortable meeting face-to-face or did not feel like they needed counseling when they moved home. Individuals may have connected with other providers from home or did not have a spot to have sessions. 

“Telehealth has been invaluable for students”-Tricia Hughes, Senior Director

Hughes said there has been an increase of students seeking services, and the counselors are starting to see numbers of students similar to before March 2020. 

Since pre-pandemic, Hughes said counseling services have tried to be more flexible. 

“One of the first things we did was move all our sessions to telehealth during the lockdown so that students could still receive services,” said Hughes. 

According to Hughes, all of the paperwork has been moved online as well as self-help resources. The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has been combined with Health, Wellness and Prevention Services (HWPS) to become Counseling and Wellness Services (CWS). This has allowed them to serve students in a more holistic way. 

Before the pandemic, Hughes said CAPS did not provide virtual services. Now students have the ability to choose between in-person and online services. Hughes said this approach has allowed services to be student-centered. 

Sophomore Rylie Campbell (left) and Senior Carrie Cutler (right) stand with the Health Hut table at an event earlier this year. The wellness club gives students tips and swag at the hut twice a week | Photo courtesy of the EWU Health and Wellness Facebook page

Hughes said one of the biggest changes staff and students have experienced are the benefits from telehealth. 

“Telehealth has been invaluable for students with remote internships, mobility challenges, quarantine periods, childcare obstacles…” said Hughes. 

Hughes said good mental health is important for students working their way through college and trying to graduate. There are many resources that students should be aware of that support their mental health. 

“[EWU] offers a lot of things that can support mental health from moving your body, to finding your community in a club or organization on campus or participating in on campus activities or EPIC adventures,” said Hughes. 

Counseling and Wellness Services has a variety of resources for students that can be found here www.ewu.edu/bewell

Hughes said the staff is excited to be combined into the Counseling and Wellness Services. Their staff has gained three counselors and a patient services representative since the first of the year. Hughes said they are seeking to have more services from prevention to intervention to address the needs of the students.