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FIU Lags Other Universities In Hiring Enough Mental Health Counselors

Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg says the school is working toward improving its ratio of mental health counselors to students.
Miami Herald
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida International University in Miami is lagging behind other public universities in an effort to hire more mental health counselors, according to a recent report.

Universities should have one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students enrolled, according to the International Association of Counseling Services. In recent years, the State University System’s board of governors has asked the Legislature for money to help schools meet this standard. Lawmakers haven’t specifically funded the request.

So the board directed Florida’s dozen public universities to find the money in their existing budgets to hire them anyway. Last week, a report was presented to the board showing schools’ progress so far.

According to the report, FIU has the worst ratio in the system — 2,216 students for every counselor. All of the other universities reported fewer than 2,000 students per counselor.

Read more: Why Are University Students Flocking To Psychological Counseling? 

FIU President Mark Rosenberg said the school has hired additional counselors that were not reflected in the report. Further, he explained that the university has a large enrollment enrolled in online courses and degree programs, and virtual students have access to mental health services but don’t have to pay the fee that supports counseling centers.

“The ratio is still high,” Rosenberg said.

“I'm not satisfied,” he continued. “I mean, I don't like the notion that we have a high ratio, and we're going to have to be more responsive — clearly, clearly.”

Rosenberg said students who need to see a counselor get in right away. But they sometimes have to wait two or three weeks to get a follow-up appointment because there aren’t enough counselors to meet the demand more quickly.

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton is near the internationally accepted standard, with 1,564 students per counselor.

Read the report here.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.