Salisbury University appointed Laurie Scherer as its new director of the Student Counseling Center at the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester. Scherer previously served as director of St. Mary's College of Maryland's Wellness Center and has experience in community health, psychology, counseling and private practice, according to an SU Public Relations press release.
During her time at SU, Scherer hopes to increase counseling staff and available services.
Understaffing has been an ongoing problem at SU since April 2021, as reported by The Flyer.
Scherer said she feels the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted counselor limitations on a national level.
"When a crisis hits, often the counselors round themselves [up] and are ready to offer support for other people... I believe there's some burnout in the field, just because we have been offering support while also navigating COVID."
While hiring is a goal for Scherer, she also wants to highlight other supportive outlets for student mental health.
"I think it needs be a goal to fill counseling positions [at SU], but it can't be our only goal for the counseling center," Scherer said. "We have to find other creative ways to support students."
At St. Mary's College of Maryland, Scherer supported two groups of interns working to promote mental health advocacy, according to the press release. Scherer said she would like to implement a similar program at SU in the future, if students are interested.
"I do think that it's important that the students also take part in supporting each other, so if that's not a program here, I would like to look at possibly offering that in the future," Scherer said.
While the counseling center is still understaffed, Scherer reminds students of alternative mental health care options. One resource is TimelyCare, a service through which students can seek counseling online at no cost.
"Right now, Timely Care is the best option. Even if it's not the ideal solution ... this is a good second choice, because there's just not the openings in the community to see community counselors," Scherer said.
While she cannot predict what the future holds for the pandemic, Scherer hopes more in-person options will become available at the counseling center, if COVID-19 restrictions are reduced.
"Together, [the counseling center staff] will all move forward into hiring, developing services and I will expect we will introduce some changes next semester."
For more information on SU's Student Counseling Center, visit: Counseling Center | Salisbury University.
By OLIVIA BALLMANN
Featured image courtesy of SU Public Relations Office