The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

College students face shortage of counseling services

Faculty look To combat the mental health crisis through training program

Murray State looks to meet the growing need for mental health support with training programs for faculty and staff. 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training teaches people to identify and respond to signs of mental distress. Murray State has offered this program since 2021, with the goal of trained faculty helping University counselors keep up with demand.

Dr. Angie Trzepacz, licensed psychologist and director of MSU’s counseling services, says the training has been a needed addition.

“The most challenging part is that we don’t have enough counselors to meet the students’ needs,” Trzepacz said. “We sometimes have to place students on a waiting list until a spot becomes available, or we have to refer them to other services, such as the Psychological Center or off-campus mental health providers.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, mental health issues have been on a steep rise in young people, with teen depression doubling between 2010 and 2019. This increase only continued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

College students are at the center of this mental health crisis. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, the percentage of students visiting counseling centers on college campuses (30%) is rising disproportionately compared to increasing enrollment rates (6%).

“We are very happy that more students are becoming aware of our services and that more students feel comfortable talking to a counselor about their mental health concerns,” Trzepacz said. “But, unfortunately, we do not have enough counselors in the Counseling Center to keep up with the demand.”

With colleges unable to employ enough counselors to meet campus needs, MHFA training presents a potential solution. This course teaches participants to better understand and identify mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The educational training equips people with the skills needed to support those experiencing a crisis.

  “Many individuals on campus have completed the course, and I think it has helped them be more aware of signs and symptoms that someone might be struggling with mental health issues,” said Trzepacz. “I believe it has helped them feel more comfortable talking with students and other individuals about mental health, and it has increased their awareness of the resources available on campus and in the community, as well as when and how to access those resources or refer others to those resources.”

A study funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council proved the effectiveness of MHFA training in improving mental health literacy for those who completed the training and in increasing support for those with mental health issues. The training equips nonprofessionals with the skills needed to aid students amidst the counseling shortage.

“Mental Health First Aiders are neighbors, parents, and friends… [they’re] anyone who wants to make their community healthier, happier, and safer for all,” according to the MHFA website.

Many Murray State faculty and staff have taken advantage of the training in the hopes of offering further support for students.

“I have definitely had some individuals reach out to me after taking the course to consult with me about students that they are working with,” Trzepacz said. “I think those relationships and collaborations across campus are very important, because we all need to work together to support our students.”

The University’s  Counseling Center is located in the Oakley Applied Science Building and is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Same day walk-in appointments are accepted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All services are confidential and free of charge. To set up an appointment with the Counseling Center, email them at [email protected]. To learn more about MHFA training, visit

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ania Boutin
Ania Boutin, Chief Videographer
Ania Boutin is the Chief Videographer at The News. Boutin is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in media production. She enjoys reading, thrifting, and watching cartoons.

Comments (0)

All The Murray State News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *