I have a cautionary tale to share, one that explores the reality of mental health services at most colleges and universities. As with many small-to-large size institutions, the college my son attends is backlogged with students seeking mental health services. So much so that when he went for his intake appointment he was put on a waiting list for therapy. A waiting list for a student with severe anxiety! A waiting list, after it took him everything he had to walk into that health center and ask for help. A waiting list, because, as he was told, “We don’t have any slots left”. Well then, I suggest adding more slots!
“Waiting for therapy” not being an option, I began my own search to find a therapist near the school. A therapist my son would agree to see, that hopefully takes insurance, and has availability around his school schedule. A piece of cake. Right?
Through my usual search, I find a therapist that seems promising; close to school and with a 5-star rating (no comments, just rating). I feel the urgency to find help so, without any further due diligence, I call– “Hello… Sure I can help, you have called the right place. But, I am running out so can you call this number at 2:30 today?”
This small wait turned out to be a blessing as it bought me some time to do my REAL search; digging to get the real picture on this “therapist”, and boy, am I glad I did!
Looking further into the information available online, one description for education read “attended a college”. A college– What college? The college of mechanical bull-riding, of hard-knocks?!? Who knows, didn’t say. There was no other information provided for this “therapist’s” education except “graduated in 1981”— Again, graduated from where… middle school?
So, I searched the address for this “therapist’s” practice through Google Earth and what I found was a house overgrown with weeds, a broken-down car parked in the driveway, and bars on the windows. Ummm, no thank you. NEXT!! I continued my research, speaking with a few– one of whom sounded like she had just woken up, one who sighed heavily and said “I’m busy, probably can’t fit him in.”, and another who dove right into her fee schedule before I had even told her why I needed to have my son seen. But then, I made a call that will hopefully be the turning point we have been looking for.
The next therapist I called answered the phone, something she said she never usually does. She had forgotten her keys and so, heading back into the office to grab them, she found herself answering a phone number she did not recognize. She spoke to me for a good 20 minutes as I explained my son’s story. She provided me a time for my son to see her and said, “Let’s first see if he likes working with me. Then we can go from there.”
Turns out, he did like working with her and she has done more for him in the few weeks we have seen her than anyone has in the past 15 months combined. Cautious optimism. But like I have said before, I bought and returned 12, yes twelve (12), prom dresses before we found the right fit for my daughter. I am certainly going to shop around until I find the right fit for a therapist for my son!