Student Counseling Services Reimagined at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Francine Packard started as the director of Student Counseling Services at Youngstown State University last summer and has worked to reimagine the department.

The recent passing of House Bill 33 allowed for more funding toward mental health and substance abuse programming, making much of her vision possible more quickly.

Previously, the department was in Kilcawley Center. However, during the first implementation phase of a grant award, Student Counseling Services and the Dean of Students office were relocated to the third floor of DeBartolo Hall, allowing for the expansion of services for both departments. 

“This move allows us to host more graduate counseling interns and, of course, service more students,” Packard said.

The Penguin Pantry and the Career Closet moved to an adjacent space.

Expansion of Student Counseling Services continues, with plans to hire a clinic case manager. 

“This clinic case manager will have the ability to follow up with any referrals, book students with therapists, provide resources and information for on and off campus, bridging the gap for students, making it easier for them to access resources,” Packard said. “They will also be trained for a crisis, so they would be able to address anything that may need immediate attention.”

Student Counseling Services will be able to provide internships with the additional space in DeBartolo Hall. The department has four interns. Packard hopes to continue partnering with the graduate counseling program to expand future opportunities for these students.

In addition to hosting graduate interns, Student Counseling Services will be able to provide ongoing services that include diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders or ailments that may impair students’ ability to succeed in the classroom, such as ADHD, depression or general anxiety disorder.

“This funding has allowed us to purchase the technology necessary to provide more comprehensive diagnostic testing of students,” Packard said. “These tools will help us diagnostically differentiate. This is really great for our interns, as they are often required to have experience with these tools before entering the workforce.”

The grant also allows for a holistic expansion of Student Counseling Services by funding services to help students with emotional regulation.

“We strive to keep these students calm prior to a counseling service and when concluding a service,” Packard said, emphasizing the importance of mindfulness, particularly for individuals seeking assistance through Student Counseling Services. “We are working to bring nap pods, right-light therapy, salt therapy and encouraging self-exploration through these complementary services.”

The funding also allows for equipment to support the expansion of the food pantry run by the Dean of Students office, including the purchase of a hydroponics system, which creates a controlled environment to support the growing of fresh fruits and vegetables for the pantry.

Packard is already seeing improvements with the changes. 

“Our statistics indicate that in January 2024, SCS served 109 students with free and confidential counseling services,” she said. “This is a significant increase compared to January 2023 when SCS served only 42 students. This grant has been invaluable to our students.”


Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.