Inside Temple’s $1 million wellness initiatives

Temple could retain and hire additional counselors at Tuttleman by Fall 2023.

The new efforts are based on recommendations from the university’s Task Force on Mental Health and Wellness. | FILE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Andrew Lee, director of Tuttleman Counseling Services, hopes that Temple University will be able to hire more counselors at Tuttleman by Fall 2023 as part of the university’s $1 million allocation to mental health and wellness announced late last month. 

Temple plans to use the $1 million, designated for Tuttleman Counseling, for hiring and retaining counselors and enhancing services at Tuttleman in addition to hiring counselors at Temple’s new Student Health and counseling center at the Health Sciences Campus, Lee said. 

“Ultimately, [students] can look forward to even more support, the type of support that they’ve already received,” Lee said. “And so the hope is that this money really enhances what we’re already doing, and helps us to do more of what we think would be even more helpful.”

The HSC center renovations will hopefully be completed in April, with plans to open and be staffed by July 1, said Mark Denys, associate vice provost for health and well-being.

Denys and Lee are still determining the specifics of how to use the $1 million to improve staffing, but it could be used for salary improvements or adjustments in counseling programs or positions, Denys said.

“We do not have the final plan together,” Denys said. “It’s something that’s been in progress and we’re still working on finalizing things.”

Tuttleman Counseling currently has 19 full-time and two part-time clinical staffers, 10 graduate clinical trainees and two open clinical positions that they are looking to fill, Lee wrote in an email to The Temple News. 

While Denys hopes to hire as many counselors as possible, he acknowledged the nationwide challenges in hiring mental health professionals and the impact that could have on hiring. 

In a few years, the United States will be down between 14,280 to 31,109 psychiatrists, according to an August 2022 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

Denys also hopes to implement a new wellness program that’s available to all employees. Currently, if an employee does not have Temple’s insurance, they are not eligible for the university’s wellness program, which allows participants to accumulate points for medical care like going to the doctor or the dentist or getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Alongside the financial commitment, Student and Employee Health Services, the Wellness Resource Center and Tuttleman Counseling are now under a new Health and Well-being Division led by Denys. 

Lee believes that the new structure will help all three “student-facing” organizations collaborate. 

“I think that is really helpful in bringing that all together so that we can really learn from each other, we can figure out if there are any greater efficiencies or ways that we can work together even more effectively,” Lee said. “And so I think being under one umbrella really helps that.”

The creation of the new division and funding is based on recommendations from the university’s Task Force on Mental Health and Wellness established by President Jason Wingard in February 2022. 

Liz Zadnik, associate director at the WRC, believes the Task Force’s findings are representative of a national conversation surrounding students’ mental health. 

“We’ve heard like this is a part of stigma reduction, right?” Zadnik said. “This is a part of mental health promotion [that] is elevating the conversation to this level. So I hope that students take this as the university listening, right, and us being a part of this national movement to weave health and well-being into campus culture.”

Moving forward, Denys hopes to see the enhancement of programs, like workshops or non-individual counseling, as a way to reach more students in a cost-effective way. 

“Whether it’s stress reduction workshops, a lot of it is things that Tuttleman Counseling already does, but it’s expanding some of what they already do, and looking at what other creative and innovative ideas and programs are out there,” Denys said. “And what can we realistically bring to campus here with the resources that we have?”

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