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MENTAL HEALTH: OTC and Burrell offering free counseling on campuses

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 9:38 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It is a challenge to find and pay for mental health services. Students and employees at Ozarks Technical Community College will soon have more access to counselors on campus through a partnership with Burrell Behavioral Health.

Two part-time mental health counselors from Burrell will be stationed at OTC campuses. One in Springfield and one at the Republic campus, which will also provide telehealth options for the Lebanon and Waynesville centers.

“Learning how to manage time, prioritizing projects and working to not be overwhelmed,” said Dr. Joan Barrett, OTC’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Dr. Barrett said college students often feel similar kinds of stress. However, she said, a large group of those at Ozarks Technical Community College are facing other pressures as well.

“They have children, they have families they’re taking care of. Most of our students indicate they’re working, and they’re working more than 20 hours a week so they are juggling stressors that are a little bit different,” she said.

Soon, part time counselors from Burrell Behavioral Health will offer therapy either in person or virtually at four of the college’s six locations, all free of charge to students and staff.

Part-time employees will be allowed up to five free sessions, which was a benefit previously only available to full-time faculty.

“They’re undergoing the same stresses that everyone is,” Barrett said.

Dustin Brown, Vice President of Integration for Burrell, said up to 80% of college students experience some type of anxiety, overwhelm or depression in a given year, but only 10% reach out to their campus counseling centers.

“What we see is the reaction to something that’s much more acute and doesn’t require a long, extensive stay in therapy treatment when they can get very targeted, solution-focused coping skills and return to a higher level of functioning much faster,” he said.

Brown said most of that can be accomplished in just a few session, but if a student does need more long-term guidance, they can be referred to a mental health specialist through Burrell.

“We know continued engagement, continued follow-up care is what’s going to be what’s key for long-term success for those individuals,” he said.

When it comes to paying for long-term therapy, Burrell accepts Medicaid, most private insurance and has a sliding-fee scale and some grant options for those who are self-pay, uninsured or underinsured.

Brown said many college campus counseling centers historically have limited access and long waits, but he said Burrell will try to manage like a walk-in medical center, where patients will hopefully not need to wait more than an hour to get help from a clinician or counselor.

Barrett said there are already two on-site counselors at OTC’s Springfield location, but having more will create easier accessibility to help students overcome obstacles.

“Very happy with the opportunity we’ve had to help students in that regard and get them connected to resources that will make not only their academic life better but improve their overall quality of life,” she said.

OTC and Burrell hope to have the counselors in place by the beginning of December. They will work through the end of the spring semester in May. The program could be extended long-term, depending on how it works for these first several months.

For anyone needing immediate help, the Burrell Behavioral Health 24/7 Crisis Help Line is 1-800-494-7355.

Its 24/7 Behavioral Crisis Center is located at 800 S. Park Ave. in Springfield.

For non-crisis services, anyone can visit Burrell’s Connection Center at 1300 E. Bradford Parkway.

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