Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services is hiring another therapist, bringing the total number of therapists at the oft-criticized and backed-up mental health services organization from three to four, according to a consortium vice president.
This new hire, as well as another recent addition, will “help meet increased demands for services at [Monsour],” Janet Dickerson, vice president for student affairs of The Claremont Colleges Services, said via email.
The recently-hired therapists each specialize in working with specific identity groups.
Monsour is still working to fill two more vacant positions. As it adds staff, it “will continue to use temporary counseling staff to help our students,” Dickerson said.
Monsour has long been criticized for its long wait times, which recently reached four weeks but decreased to two and a half weeks as of March 12, after Monsour hired temporary staff.
At an April 3 faculty meeting, Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr addressed criticism that Monsour’s struggles to retain staff members due to low pay compared to that at other nearby schools like the University of Southern California. Starr said the 5Cs have taken action.
“We did a $20,000 correction, and I think we are now at market for the area,” Starr said at the meeting. “We were able to hire the top people that we wanted this time. … We’re competitive in the market now; we were not before.”
Monsour began the process of hiring to fill the open positions several months ago, Dickerson said.
Therapist Patricia Gonzalez has started on a part-time basis and will expand to full-time in fall 2019. She specializes in support and outreach for LGBTQIA+ students, according to Dickerson.
The other new therapist who has already been hired, Edden Agonafer, will begin in the fall and will specialize in support and outreach for students of African descent, Dickerson said.
Monsour is still looking to hire a crisis therapist/care manager counselor in addition to a counselor specializing in outreach and support for Asian and Asian American students.
Monsour is also looking at ways to allow students to access mental health care off campus very quickly, according to Starr. Monsour is currently working to provide a list of practitioners who are taking new patients.
In January, Pomona increased funding for Monsour, Starr said at the faculty meeting.
Carrie Young SC ’21 said that adding more positions at Monsour is a step in the right direction, but thinks the 5Cs also need to address the underlying causes of poor mental health.
“Adding more positions, and even more than just two or three, is really important,” Young said. “Making sure that we change the culture of the schools is even more important.”
Maria Heeter SC ’22 is an economics major from Dover, New Hampshire. She is currently an editor-at-large and previously served as TSL’s fall 2020 editor-in-chief.