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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Counseling Conflict

By Allie Grasgreen
Inside Higher Ed
Originally published March 26, 2012

Georgia State University’s decision this month to replace its counseling center staff with outsourced employees is worrying those in the field, who say such moves are extremely rare and will likely prove detrimental to the mental health services available to students.

The shift is doubly troubling because a number of former staff members (as well as others in the field) are accusing the university of outsourcing services as a retaliation for their complaints that some university policies involving the counseling center had the potential to hurt students. While the outsourcing was announced shortly after the complaints were made, the university says there was no relationship between the two developments. The director and two associate directors will stay on as full-time employees of Georgia State, spokeswoman Andrea Jones said.

The university says it replaced its nine counseling center clinical positions (three of which were vacant) with contracted employees “in order to increase institutional effectiveness in delivering mental health services to students.”

Because the staff were eliminated through a “reduction in force” process, which is done without regard to an employee’s performance, the change could not have been retaliatory, Jones said. The new model will mimic that of Georgia State’s psychiatry services and health center (both of which commonly use independent contractors).

The entire story is here.