HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Students at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) voiced their concerns over the campus’ counseling and mental health services.

After the recent death of a Southern Miss student, other students are urging the campus to make changes to its Counseling Center.

One student said it took him three weeks to get a consultation, followed by another three weeks for his appointment. He said he never received a follow-up.

The matter was discussed with the university administration, but the student said changes need to be made sooner than later.

“They do have crisis support, but I think that’s very different from long-term individual therapy, which is what I’m really trying to advocate for because just because you aren’t actively needing help at this very second, that could obviously change. And without individual therapy for students, their mental health could get significantly worse over time,” the student said.

USM released the following statement to WJTV 12 News.

The Student Counseling Center (SCS) provides quality services to Southern Miss students by promoting sound mental health and the coping skills necessary for a successful pursuit of their educational and life goals. SCS offers currently enrolled students free, confidential counseling services and can provide referrals to campus and community resources. The highly trained, professional staff cares deeply for Southern Miss students.

Leaders in the Division of Student Affairs have met with interested students to better understand their concerns and are taking multiple actions to alleviate those concerns.

To increase care for our students, the University is securing additional support in an after-hours hotline. This will be a resource for all students to use outside of University business hours, similar to the 988 national hotline. This resource supports ‘timely effective assessment and intervention to people in times of crisis, and ensure continuous, quality access to professional behavioral health and wellness services.’

In addition, while other University projects are in the planning stages, we recognize the importance of input from students. The University is creating a Mental Health Student Advisory Council concentrating on students’ mental health services and support around resources. The Division of Student Affairs will be nominating students, and students can also complete an interest form.

The University will continue to review the process, experience, and protocols we follow regarding the mental health of our students.

University of Southern Mississippi Division of Student Affairs