Wellness Center Debunks “Myths” About Health Services

Lucy Nguyen ’23, Staff Writer

The Wellness Center is working to better inform students about their services and misconceptions about the quality and access to health services they provide.

In an informal Dickinsonian survey of 22 students, only four said they were familiar with the Wellness Center and its services. Two of those four students were seniors. Most of the first years and sophomores interviewed said that they knew very little about the center. 

Among the students, around half had heard negative stories about the Wellness Center. Most negative stories were about counseling services. Students had heard peers complain about difficulty scheduling appointments and unhelpful counselors.

Lauren Strunk, Executive Director of the Wellness Center, said she aimed to dispel myths around the center in a talk with the Student Senate in January. She identified two main misconceptions: The long wait time for counseling appointments and not being prescribed medications despite feeling symptoms of illness. 

Strunk explained that the counseling scheduling depends on a student’s availability and their risk. If a student has “a very limited schedule,” the Wellness Center will have a harder time assigning them a counselor and the student will be added to the waitlist, said Strunk. 

“I worry about students not coming to the Wellness Center because they don’t think we have appointments, because that is just not true,” said Strunk. She also noted that there were just three students on the waitlist last semester and four on this semester. Moreover, Strunk said, if a student is at high risk, they will be fast-tracked to meet a counselor.

For the second myth, Strunk said that “if a student is saying they weren’t given any medication, it could be because whatever their diagnosis was didn’t warrant giving them medications.”

Strunk thought that these myths start because of lack of context. “I think it’s like a word-of-mouth type of thing, where students are talking to other students and believing what they are saying,” said Strunk.

To dispel the misconceptions, Strunk is talking with the Student Senate and working with staff to spread the correct information around the community. “Honestly, I tell students and faculty and staff that if they are hearing something about the Wellness Center to tell me,” said Strunk, “It is my responsibility to investigate that.”

The Wellness Center is working on reaching out to students through the Wellness Outreach office, which is located inside the Student Life office. The office was created last semester to partner with students, faculty and staff for activities and getting connected, said Strunk, “[Students] can always come to talk to us.”

Strunk also said that “we’ve been trying to think of creative ways to get in front of our first-time- in-college students after orientation, after they’ve settled down, and provide information.”

While Strunk acknowledged the shortcomings of the Wellness Center, such as no dentistry and only having one counselor of color, she wants students to know about other available services, like the Nursing hotline, My SSP and the Medical Van. 

The Nursing hotline is a 24/7 non-emergency hotline for medical advice, My SSP is a counseling app that has 24/7 services and counselors in multiple languages, and the Medical Van is a service operated by the Department of Public Safety that transports students for medical issues.