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March 8, 2018

Senate Committee Explores Wellness Center’s Integrated Offerings for Students

Last year’s integration of services provided by the Student Health Service and University Counseling Center under the new umbrella of the Wellness Center has been successful, according to Marian Vanek, the center’s executive director. She was hosted by the Senate student admissions, aid and affairs committee at its Feb. 15 meeting.

Vanek pointed toward what could be seen as a national trend. “Probably about 62 percent of colleges and universities now have an integrated structure or at least are moving forward with an integrated structure,” she said, referencing an American College Health Association survey.

The Wellness Center’s offerings, she said, have seen more traffic. Robin Kear, Senate vice president and the Senate liaison on the committee, asked if that growth could be related to the center’s additional staff members that can see patients.

“There is not a university health center or counseling center that is not experiencing a significant increase in demand, whether they increase staff or not, and I don’t think anybody really knows the single reason,” Vanek said. “I don’t think there is a single reason why this is happening.”

Vanek partially attributed Pitt’s growth of students visiting the Wellness Center to “a decrease in the stigma to seek mental health care,” along with “the increase in awareness and education that we perform here on campus, but also on a national basis.”

The Wellness Center has treatment teams — led by physicians, nurses, dietitians, therapists, counselors and social workers — that have been tailored to address specific issues, such as eating disorders, health concerns of transgender students, substance abuse and health education for people of various cultural backgrounds.

In an effort to make its resources available to more students, the Counseling Center has group therapy and implemented a short-term treatment model for one-on-one treatment. Outside providers treat patients whose diagnoses call for more intensive services.

Some of the Counseling Center’s new services include same-day walk-ins; ProtoCall, a 24-hour on-call hotline; first aid tools for mental health; and online self-assessments.

Vanek said that the Wellness Center launched a new initiative this past fall called the Collegiate Recovery Program for students recovering from substance addiction.

“More often than not, they’re faced with a challenge: Do they maintain sobriety or stay in school? Sometimes, they’re not consistent, those two factors,” she said. “I think that needs to change, and having a collegiate recovery program on campus will certainly allow these students to successfully graduate and stay in college and eventually graduate.”


Katie Fike,, 412-624-1085


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