PBSC Expands Student Access To Mental Health Counseling

Palm Beach State College students who need mental health counseling now have access 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The college has partnered with BayCare Behavioral Health to provide broader and more convenient access to counseling and other services for its 49,000 students on five campuses.

Through the partnership, students can call (800) 878-5470 and speak confidentially to an experienced mental health professional, who will listen to their concerns and connect them to licensed counselors in their geographic area.

PBSC opened the Student Counseling Center on its Lake Worth campus about 10 years ago. However, the college decided that more support was needed for students because of limited staffing at the Student Counseling Center and challenges with access for students on the other campuses and when the college is closed. “Palm Beach State College is trying to be proactive and address the holistic needs of our students by partnering with BayCare in this program,’’ said Dr. Peter Barbatis, vice president of student services and enrollment management. “Our current staffing patterns are not sufficient to meet the needs of our students.”

Jeannie Hoban, a licensed clinical social worker and director of the Student Counseling Center, said many students work full-time jobs and are raising families, which can create additional stress and affect their ability to succeed in college. “We want to help them as much as we can,’’ she said.

Hoban has run the center for eight years with the help of interns who are recent graduates of master’s degree programs in fields such as counseling and social work. For the 2016-17 academic year, they served 436 clients for 967 sessions. In addition to counseling, the center operates a food pantry and connects students with resources in the community.

Students who need mental health counseling services can also e-mail BayCareSAP@BayCare.org. For more information about the Student Counseling Center, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/counselingcenter.

Serving 49,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, PBSC offers more than 130 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves.