MAASTRICHT. ‘Waiting times for student psychologists have dropped drastically,’ Observant reported two weeks ago. One of the reasons was the introduction of groups sessions, focussing on prevention. But now it appears that waiting times have suddenly risen again substantially.
Slightly busier schedules towards the end of September are not abnormal, in view of the up-coming exam period, says UM student psychologist Liesbeth Mouha. But the psychologists did not expect a sixfold increase of the waiting time (from three days to four weeks). “In comparison to last year, there now have been almost twice as many weekly registrations,” says Mouha.
Mouha thinks that this is not because there are more problems, but “students find their way us more easily, both for our group sessions and for individual appointments.” For that there has been an intensive advertising campaign last year, mainly through social media. The emphasis was in particular on the new group events they offered, consisting of lectures, workshops and training sessions.
Would extra student psychologists be a solution? Student members of the University Council have been asking for this for years. Mouha doesn't think so. “Where would it end? In many cases, this concerns students with a lot of stress; they often benefit a great deal from a group workshop on stress management. We need to ensure that only those people who really need individual help, approach the student psychologists. Students often prefer to make an individual appointment, they find that easier. We are going to investigate how we can lower the threshold for the group sessions.”
To reduce waiting times permanently, more group sessions will be introduced “as quickly as possible”. In addition – in order to tackle waiting times in the short term – they will organise more intake interviews for the weeks to come. Lastly, the UM student psychologists are thinking of increasing the number of hours available for consultations without an appointment and using some of that time to schedule intake interviews.