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State Press Play: ASU mental health advocate spotlight

Plus, the Sun Devils are in March Madness, and University President Michael Crow proposes tuition increases

"State Press Play." Illustration published on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Audrey Sadlier reports on mental health and counseling resources at ASU. Plus, the Sun Devil men's basketball team enters March Madness, and University President Michael Crow proposes tuition increases for the Fall 2023-24 academic year.

State Press podcast transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. The official record for State Press podcasts is the audio.

Naomi Dubovis  0:02  

Hi there, this is Naomi Dubovis.

Audrey Sadlier  0:05  

 And I'm Audrey Sadlier.

Naomi Dubovis  0:06  

You're listening to stay press play.

This week we're pulling back the curtain on mental health resources for students at ASU. Plus, we're covering March Madness and a proposed tuition increase for ASU students next year. 

Audrey Sadlier  0:19  

We've got all this and more for you this week. Tune in for the ASU community's top stories every Wednesday, right here right now.

Naomi Dubovis  0:40  

Well, we're back from spring break, which means back to the old Grindstone for ASU students. If you've ever struggled with feelings of burnout, anxiety, even depression, you're not alone. We're trying something new this week. Mental health struggles are a very real concern for college students. We were inspired to dig a little deeper into resources for students who may be struggling with their mental health and asking questions about the current system ASU has in place. State Press Podcast Producer Audrey Sadlier is joining me today for an originally reported top story. Thanks for being here, Audrey. 

Audrey Sadlier  1:14  

Good to be back. 

Naomi Dubovis  1:15  

So let's talk about this. What stood out to you from the very beginning?

Audrey Sadlier  1:19  

So ASU counseling services and ASU health services are the number one directed resources for students who might be struggling. And so I was really curious about the system and how it works, especially what it's like for ASU counseling, with a school as big as ASU. According to Arizona State University enrollment trends, we attend a school with about 80,000 students and undergraduate enrollment numbers are only increasing. 

Naomi Dubovis  1:45  

So what did you find out about ASU counseling services? 

Audrey Sadlier  1:48  

So ASU counseling services is a team of about 40 counselors, 15 counselors work in intake, and the rest work with students based in need, plus a couple of counseling interns. 

Naomi Dubovis  2:01  

And what does that mean for ASU students? 

Audrey Sadlier  2:03  

Well, the International Accreditation of Counseling Services recommend schools have one counselor for every one to one and a half thousand students. This number considers the idea that all students looking for mental health care are actively in crisis, while acknowledging that longer wait times for counselors to see students pose worse outcomes, both for students and for universities. ASU's ratio as of fall 2022 is about one counselor to every two thousand students. 

Naomi Dubovis  2:32  

So that's almost double? 

Audrey Sadlier  2:35  

Yeah. So when we look at these numbers, ASU's counseling services don't meet the recommended bar for higher education. The State Press has written about ASU counseling services before, and each time we write about it, people say the same thing. Students talk about long wait times for counselors to see students, counselors turning away students seeking care and experiences described as impersonal. 

Naomi Dubovis  2:59  

Did you get a chance to talk to ASU counseling services themselves? 

Audrey Sadlier  3:03  

Yeah, I actually did. So I actually got to speak to the director of counseling services at ASU, Aaron Krasnow. And so I asked him what ASU has been doing to accommodate the sudden influx of students. "We add more people who might need us or want help from us, we also add people that we want to reach to help them with their coping with stress or building and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. So we see growth as positive because it's positive for the university. The more people we educate, the better things are go for them and society. And our role is to make sure that we're in sync with that. The other is we look at local and national trends. And we look at what's happening within college age students and graduate students, and make sure that our services are in sync with that. So an example of how we have changed. About a year and a half ago, we launched what we call open call open chat, which is an extension of our counseling center that allows ASU students to text chat with a mental health professional, or do video calls or telephone calls, any time of day, from anywhere in the world every day. And well, we always had and still have a counseling center eight to five Monday through Friday and always have a help center, same hours, this was something that we were seeing in the trend data and hearing from students both that they wanted more options, and they wanted more options after hours. But they didn't always want like a therapist. In those times. Sometimes they just wanted someone to talk to one time. And sometimes they just wanted to use the chat or just wanted to talk on the phone. One of the things we're finding out particularly amongst 18 to 25 year olds, is that sometimes they just want a smart adult to talk to and that's enough." 

Krasnow said that counseling services has to pay attention to two broad categories when providing care for students: satisfaction surveys to find out if students are getting what they need, and feedback from students in leadership roles specifically.

Naomi Dubovis  5:08  

What kind of leadership roles is he referring to in this case? 

Audrey Sadlier  5:12  

So basically, what he meant by that is that there are students in leadership roles at student-run organizations at ASU, he corresponds with these students monthly and talks about ask for advice, listens to feedback and runs by the students potential changes in the counseling department as a whole. 

Naomi Dubovis  5:38  

So why would he be interested in those types of students specifically, as opposed to any general student?

Audrey Sadlier  5:46  

Pulling from these students that are in leadership roles helps diversify the opinions of this group in general, I think that the students in the leadership roles are hopefully advocating for the students that they are associated with in their student organizations. 

Naomi Dubovis  6:06  

So what have students said about ASU counseling maybe about the experience specifically? 

Audrey Sadlier  6:12  

Yeah, so I talked to Lexi Otero, who is actually a sophomore at ASU and is a psychology major, she went through intake over the summer on Zoom and here's how she described the experience: "I didn't have like the worst experience, I just didn't have very good experience. It was all just very impersonal. I just felt like he wasn't really listening to me. I remember him asking me if I was going through like an immediate crisis. And I was like, not really, I'm just kind of struggling, like I've been struggling. He was like, well, just letting you know, here at ASU. Like we don't do like long term care. And he told me that they're more for help in a crisis, and that it's not the best place to go, if you're looking for like, follow up appointment like week after week, which is what I was looking for. And I just felt like I wasn't listened to very well, because the exercises and like the things he told me to take with me after our meeting were very basic. I didn't feel like it was catered towards me and what I had told him, because I feel like he tells everyone the same thing."

Naomi Dubovis  7:28  

So considering all of this, do students have any other options besides ASU counseling? Maybe for example, among any student organizations? 

Audrey Sadlier  7:39  

Yeah, actually, I talked to Carter Bower, who is a Senior with a double major in neuroscience in psychology and he's actually the president of a student organization called Devils4devils. And so I got the chance to talk to Carter about this. And here's what he told me about the organization: "Within devils4devils right now, we are continuing to go into student organizations, and also faculty organizations all around ASU to give our roadmap of support training, I kind of like to call it like our empathy training. And it gives students or anybody, the ability to kind of recognize when someone is in need of help and then what do you do after that." And so basically, it's an ASU organization, but it's run by students. And its mission is to create an emotionally healthy campus where students use skills learned from devils4devils to raise awareness about mental health.  "I can speak from experience, I've gone through therapy in my life before and I know that kind of those first steps of either asking for help or going to seek help is always the hardest. I hope that devils4devils can become kind of more well known. The more people we train, the more those people can go out then and use empathy and use what they've learned to be more supportive to their friends, to their family, and just overall create a more empathic community here at ASU." So when students consider their options, what really stood out to me the most is like what Carter said, the importance of a support system and taking that first step. "Ask for help from other people in your life people that you feel supported with, people who you feel safe with and ask them, you know, can you help me reach out to this person? And then just being kind to yourself. You know, I think that was the biggest thing at least with me. I mean, previously, kind of early in my life, I was very hard on myself, and that kind of was responsible for a lot of the problems that I faced, and especially coming into college or just being in college in general, it can be a really, a really rough kind of environment. So being kind to yourself and reaching out for help and knowing that it is difficult, and you're not alone and feeling that, like, How can this be so easy for other people to do? It's not, for the most part." 

Naomi Dubovis  10:12  

I also really liked when he said, to be kind to yourself, it really isn't easy for anyone going to college, no matter your grades or how well you study, college is hard and I think we really need to have more realistic expectations about how easy of a time it is going to be for ourselves. So what was it like reporting this story?

Audrey Sadlier  10:35  

It was really important for me to be able to see that I am not alone in the sense that a lot of students deal with mental health issues, physical health issues, all that sort of stuff. And in that sense that there are resources here at ASU, whether or not they are talking to your friends, or actually going and seeking out care from the counseling department, or going to check out devils4devils and completing that training. There are a bunch of different options and so I feel like that made me feel a lot better about just going through life here at college, and especially whatever might lie ahead for me.

Naomi Dubovis  11:30  

For more original reporting on ASU's mental health system, check out our website at state Stay tuned for some more top stories from this week.

Audrey Sadlier  11:47  

March Madness is here and the ASU men's basketball team will get to be a part of it against all odds. The Sun Devils have made it to this year's NCAA Tournament despite losing against the Arizona Wildcats and being eliminated from the PAC 12 tournament. The NCCA committee said Sunday afternoon that ASU is record of 22 wins against 12 losses was enough to let them play. ASU will play against the University of Nevada Wolfpack in the first four game in Dayton, Ohio today. The committee also considered ASU defeating Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Michigan and Creighton University in the regular season, along with Oregon State and the University of Southern California in the PAC 12 tournament. To celebrate making it to March Madness for the 17th time, not only did Sun Devil Men's Basketball Coach Bobby Hurley jump into his pool with the team, but he also said, "I had a feeling in my heart and inside that we had done enough and that we would be rewarded for it." For more on this story and others about ASU's uphill climb to March Madness, check out the articles by Alfred Smith the third and Alex Wakefield at state 

Naomi Dubovis  12:57  

It's that time of the year again. Flowers are blooming and the snow is melting. Temperatures are rising, and so will your tuition if the Arizona board of regents approves ASU president Michael Crow's latest proposal. The tuition and fee proposal raises tuition by 3% for in-state students and 5% for out-of-state and international students. Online students can expect a 2% increase in both tuition and fees. Other student fees are also being re-evaluated. The health and wellness fee, which covers ASU health and counseling services might increase from $55 to $80. The services facility fee might also increase from $75 to $100. Tuition raises like this one aren't new. Last year, tuition went up by 2.5% for in state students 4% for out-of-state students and 5% for international students. The Board of Regents will hold a virtual public hearing for the proposal on March 28. For more about Crow's proposal and how it might affect you, read the story by Piper Hanson at state

Camila Pedrosa  14:06  

Hi, my name is Camila Pedrosa, and I'm one of the managing editors for the State Press Magazine. Today our newest issue, the automation issue is out. Pick it up on newsstands or check it out online. You can read stories about AI art, chatGBT, Waymo, you can find all of these stories and plenty more at state Also, if you see us tabling at the MU or downtown, come up to us, grab a mag. We're friendly. We don't bite I promise.

Audrey Sadlier  14:36  

ASU Gammage just released the lineup for its Broadway season, featuring nine shows between October 2023 And July 2024. This year's schedule features eight shows with Tina: the Tina Turner musical kicking off the season in early October. Theater super fans or current Gammage season ticket holders will be able to buy a season ticket package for seven or eight shows. Tough luck for Les Mis fans though. The tickets to see Les Miserables will be excluded from the season ticket package. But, season ticket holders will have priority access to see Les Mis, which will run in early December this year. For more information check out the ASU Gammage website at

Naomi Dubovis  15:20  

Rihanna's Superbowl halftime show may be over, but Taylor Swift is next in line to perform at State Farm stadium in Glendale. And to celebrate the occasion, the city got itself a blank space and wrote Taylor's name. State Press politics reporter and certified Swiftie Alyssa Horton has all the details about Glendale temporarily changing its official name to Swift City. Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers, aka "Mayor Swiftie," signed a document Monday declaring that the name change will last from March 17 to the 18th while Taylor makes the first stop of her "Eras" tour. According to a press release, Glendale residents are "enchanted to meet" her, and can't wait to see her take the stage in their "Bejeweled" city. Man that was a lot of Taylor puns. Dang it Glendale, look what you made me do! For more on this story, check out the article by Alyssa Horton at state

Thanks for listening to this episode of State Press Play. But don't pause this just yet -

Audrey Sadlier  16:28  

Follow the State Press on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Naomi Dubovis  16:32  

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter at State Press. 

Audrey Sadlier  16:34  

To learn more about the stories we talked about today, check out the articles online! You can find all of these stories and more at state 

Naomi Dubovis  16:35  

This show was edited and produced by the State Press podcast desk. 

Audrey Sadlier  16:37  

Thank you to our editor, Sonya Sheptunov and to our managing team, Andrew Onodera and Reece Andrews. Our music is courtesy of epidemic sound. 

Naomi Dubovis  16:56  

I'm your host, Naomi Bovis. 

Audrey Sadlier  16:58  

And I'm Audrey Sadler.

Naomi Dubovis  16:59  

You've been listening to State Press Play. See you next week!

Transcribed by

Sonya SheptunovFull-time Podcast Producer

Sonya Sheptunov is a podcast producer at The State Press. They take an interest in data, counterculture, and all things nerdy. In their free time you can find them drinking too much coffee or attempting to crochet.

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