University statement regarding mental health services

August 5, 2018, 7 p.m.

The statement below has been expanded to include this additional information, which is noted in italics below. Face-to-face counseling sessions are provided within 6 hours of initial contact if the need is emergent, within 24 hours if urgent, and within three business days if routine.

August 5, 2018, 12 p.m.

Dear university community,

As you know, we tragically and unexpectedly lost a member of our community last week. Kevin was a dear friend to many of our students and he will be terribly missed by all.  We believe that Kevin’s family needs to be respected and allowed to grieve in peace.

I want to assure you that our transition this summer in how we provide mental health services for our students provides far more options and services than we had before. At no time have our students been without mental health services. Students are aware of the transition and the services and many have been utilizing the services.

We have had a contract with Baycare since spring 2017 to provide mental health services when our on-staff counselor was not available. Under the general recommended ratio of one counselor for every 1,500 students, Florida Poly only needs one counselor. However, we know that a single counselor cannot always be available and cannot meet demand when it surges during stressful times like exams.

As part of the transition, we are also hiring a full-time associate director of campus wellness management who will work as the liaison between our students and Baycare. Interviews are underway and we plan to have the person on staff before classes begin. Additionally, we have increased our contracted services with Baycare and implemented the Baycare Student Assistance Program. As part of the program, we also have a counselor available on-campus in the Wellness Center for several hours each week.

This means our students:

  • Have 24/7 access to Baycare’s large network of licensed mental health counselors, social workers and other health professionals, even when school is not in session.
  • Can seek help by visiting the on-campus Wellness Center or calling the 1-800 number at any time.
  • May choose where they would like to have services provided to them: in-person on campus or in the community (for convenience or privacy) or via telephone.
  • Will have access to a full-time on-campus resource (the associate director of campus wellness management) who will serve as a liaison with Baycare.

The Baycare program allows us to provide services based on what our students need, rather than based on the availability of a single staff member and, we have guaranteed response times that we could have never met with a single counselor. Face-to-face counseling sessions are provided within six hours of initial contact if the need is emergent, within 24 hours if urgent, and within three business days if routine.

I want to assure you we made the decision to move to this new model because we believe it is far better for our students than our previous model. This is not a cost-cutting measure. This new model will likely cost the university more, but our students will have more options, which is what’s most important to us.

We know that in choosing Florida Poly, you have entrusted your children to us and we take that responsibility very seriously. Our faculty and staff work hard every day to create a campus that’s welcoming and inclusive and provides all of the academic and emotional support services that all of our students need to thrive. Part of this process means continual improvement, and sometimes that includes decisions like the one we made to move to a 24/7, 365 days a year counseling model.

We believe this is a far superior approach over what we were doing in almost every way. This transition was intentionally made over the summer and we informed students and faculty about this transition via email. As the academic year begins and students and faculty return to campus, we will continue our efforts to train faculty on how to tell if someone needs help and will be regularly sharing additional information with students about how they can get help.

On behalf of all of us at the university, I again want to extend our deepest and most profound sympathy to Kevin’s family and friends. It’s terribly unfortunate that they are caught in the middle of this situation as they are grieving such an unimaginable loss.

Sincerely,

Randy K. Avent
President

Contact:
Maggie Mariucci
Assistant Vice President, University Relations
863-874-8462

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