Author: Lucy Feickert
Emmons Health Center increased its psychological services staff this year by hiring a part-time psychologist. The decision comes because without an increase in staff this year, Emmons would not have been able to meet student demand this year as more students have been requesting the psychological services over the last few years.
The Mose and Sylvia Firestone Foundation awarded an endowment to Occidental College to increase the psychological resources available at Emmons Health Center. The one million dollar endowment, which the college received in June, allowed Emmons to hire an additional part time professional psychologist and continue to meet the increased student demand.
Emmons’ new psychologist, Marie Brigitt Lamothe-Francois, comes to Occidental College with a background in college counseling. Lamothe-Francois works in counseling services at Emmons along with two full time professional psychologists and three part time graduate student interns to meet the mental health needs of the student body. So far, according to the Director of Student Health Services at Emmons Health Center Richard Youngblood, no students have been placed on a wait list to see a psychologist this year because of the additional staff available.
“We have been extremely busy since the year started. If we had the same staffing as last year, we would have started developing a wait list in the second week of September and we have yet to start a waiting list at this point. We’re right on the edge of one,” Youngblood said.
Student use of Emmons Health Center’s psychological services has grown over the past five years, consistent with a national trend, according to Occidental’s website. Associate Director of Student Health Services and Director of Counseling at Emmons Health Center Matthew Calkins explained the increase in student use of Emmons.
“I think students are feeling that Emmons is a safe place to go, and they’re accessing counseling services here more readily,” Calkins said.
Youngblood also observed the increasing student use of counseling services at Emmons.
“More students are living on campus, I think that that leads to more students seeking services on campus. It also may be true that just more students are seeking help in general,” he said.
Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement Lakshmi Dastur-Johnson explained that money from the donation could have also been used for outreach as well as to provide support to students with disabilities.
“The endowment is really for student counseling services, it can fund a variety of things including a counselor, but it can also fund diagnostic testing. We’ve chosen to use the funds to support an additional counselor,” Dastur-Johnson said.
This endowment comes from the estate of the late Mose and Sylvia Firestone. Mose and Sylvia both passionately advocated the availability of counseling to everyone, according to Occidental’s website. When Mose died, he indicated that he wanted a significant portion of his and his late wife’s estate to go to charity. The executor of the estate, Gary Kaplan (Occidental Class of ’71) informed the college of the available funds, and the Occidental Office of Institutional Advancement sent proposals to the Firestone Estate. Kaplan granted this endowment to the College for use in counseling services at Emmons because of the passion of the Firestones in psychological services, according to Dastur-Johnson.
Like the Firestones, Occidental also notes the importance of providing counseling services to students through Emmons Health Center.
“We want to be able to support students in the best possible way and make their educational experience the best it can be, and this is one way to do that,” Dastur-Johnson said.
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