Students count on SHAC for one-stop-shopping

Between taking 18 credits, trying to hold down a part-time job and still maintaining a social life, finding time to take care of one’s physical and mental health can be difficult for students. However, the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), formed by the recent merger of Student Health Services and Counseling/Psychological services aims to provide a one-stop-shop for student health issues.

Representatives from SHAC believe that the merger will provide students access to complete and “holistic” health care.

“It makes for more comprehensive care,” Mary Beth Collins, director of counseling and psychiatric services for SHAC said.

With a new office on the ground floor of the University Center Building, SHAC representatives hope that PSU students will be more aware of their access to low-cost healthcare on campus.


“For students who maintain such a hectic schedule, physical and mental health and well-being should be a top priority,” Jessica Harbottle, office manager for SHAC said.”Health care should not be taken for granted and we have some of the most affordable healthcare for students.”

Page Morrison, a senior sociology student, said that with the rising cost of health care, she is glad to have the health services offered by the school.

“I’ve tried to take advantage of the health services at PSU because they’re so inexpensive,” she said.”They seem to ask the important questions and give good information.”

Morrison also said that she makes use of the dental insurance that is included in tuition for students taking more than nine credits.

SHAC also serves as a useful and easily accessible health resource for students who are living away from home for the first time and may not be aware of other outlets for healthcare in Portland, Harbottle said.

The center is staffed by eight full-time registered nurses and six staff physicians, and is equipped to provide everything from band-aids to women’s health resources to x-rays. The counseling section offers temporary individual counseling, couples therapy, and drug and alcohol counseling, among other services.

Students can visit the center’s doctors either by appointment or on a drop-in basis. Appointments typically need to be made one to two weeks in advance, but may need to be scheduled even farther in the future for specific services.

The center strives to see drop-in cases within about 20 minutes, but students report that the wait can be as long as an hour, especially in the midst of flu season. To be assured of not having to wait around, it is best to make an appointment ahead of time.

A “Wellness Center” is also located in the SHAC lobby, which provides pamphlets, books, videos and self-assessment materials for issues ranging from procrastination to sexually transmitted diseases.

Some students have expressed concern that the counseling services are too quick to prescribe anti-depressants or other medication to students who seek help, but SHAC representatives insist that students are informed of several different options, but often choose medication.

Collins speculates that students may be influenced by advertisements for anti-depressants and other medication in making their decisions.

Harbottle stressed that medication is an important option for some students.

“It is something that is talked about with the patient, it is not something we push them into, it is their decision,” she said. “There are some people who are at a point in their lives where they need that assistance.”

Health services provided by SHAC are covered by the basic student health insurance package, included with tuition for all students taking 9 or more credits during the fall, winter and spring terms. Students taking four to eight credits can pay an $85 fee each term for coverage. Students can pay $19.20 to extend their coverage into the summer term as well.

Collins also pointed out that certain costs for things like prescriptions and testing can be billed to students’ PSU accounts, so students can use services even if they don’t have any money on hand.

SHAC is located in the University Center Building (1880 S.W. Sixth Avenue), and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday.