More students used counseling services in fall compared to pre-pandemic semesters

Mental health improved with less isolation; some students face health-related, social concerns



Counseling and Psychological Services began offering Telehealth during the pandemic so students who were not on campus could still access mental health resources.


Cougar Health Services saw more students last semester than non-pandemics, with mixed reactions about the first in-person classes in a year and a half. 

Loren Brown, WSU Counseling and Psychological Services associate and clinical director, said students had a wide range of reactions and experiences from having in-person classes again. 

“For [some] students, this has been challenging for them,” Brown said. “They have experienced higher levels of stress or anxiety, with concerns about being around other students or … health-related concerns.”

Some students had a harder time transitioning from online to in-person classes than others because of the environmental change, he said. 

Even though certain students may have had a hard time adjusting from an environment where they are alone most of the time, others were excited to have the opportunity to come back to campus, Brown said. 

“Some students felt that it improved their mental health because they felt less isolated. They were able to see and connect with friends or professors in ways they enjoyed,” he said. “This has been something they were really hoping for and they felt better about.”

During the semesters where classes were held online, CAPS saw lower numbers of students coming in toward the beginning of classes than previous semesters, Brown said. But, the numbers eventually got higher as classes continued. 

CAPS recently started offering Telehealth, so students who were not on campus could still use the resources available to them, he said.

Brown said CAPS saw higher rates of students using Telehealth during the summer semester because everyone who was on campus went home. 

“In [the] fall semester of 2021, we noticed that our numbers returned to the same level of busy. [They were] actually a little bit higher than they had been in previous fall semesters,” he said. “We were where we usually are in terms of students requesting appointments.”

Brown said he believes this semester will be similar to the fall semester for CAPS, but because things could change, he is prepared for certain things that could impact how they run.

“Knowing that things are changing so rapidly with precautions and rates with COVID … we’re trying to be ready for whatever may come up,” he said. “We just try to be poised and ready to do the best we can with the resources we have.”

If CAPS is not able to help a student, they will direct them to other places in Pullman, such as Palouse River Counseling. Even though CAPS saw different numbers between semesters, PRC Executive Director Mike Berney said he did not see a huge difference in numbers. 

PRC always receives requests from students who get referred from CAPS, Berney said. While there might have been an increase in students who filled out a request, it was not a drastic or noticeable change. 

Some of the students who came into PRC showed an increase in anxiety and depression because of the ongoing pandemic, he said.

“But I think there was a benefit to being on campus,” Berney said. “There was more of a social support.”