CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Darren Oliver doesn’t have much downtime these days. One of two mental health counselors at Davenport University’s Wellness Center, the need for his services is up 105% since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Increases in anxiety and depression,” Oliver said. “A lot of those things coming from being isolated, not knowing what the future holds for them and things like that.”
A $1 million grant is helping students at Davenport University stay healthy in both body and mind. The gift from the Klingenberg family, owners of Presidio Insurance Solutions, who have deep ties to the university, helped Davenport establish the Wellness Center, which opened last fall.
It’s part of a larger fundraising campaign that began in December. Davenport hopes to raise $35 million through the ELEVATE campaign to fund university programs and scholarships. So far, the campaign has raised $25.6 million from private donors.
Inside the Wellness Center, across from treatment rooms where nurses and other medical personnel tend to physical illnesses and injuries, are therapist offices. Treating colds and treating depression are on equal ground.
“The word is out here at Davenport that it’s best to get help … if you’re having issues with whatever it might be in terms of your mental health,” Oliver said.
But as more and more people reach out for help, there’s another problem.
“As a national issue, we have not enough counselors,” Oliver said.
Davenport is trying to address that problem, too. The grant has allowed the school to establish two new mental health degree programs, a master’s of arts in mental health counseling and a master’s of science in nursing with an emphasis in mental health treatment.
“There’s all kinds of internships; 600 hours of internships, 1,000 hours of practicum,” Davenport President Richard Pappas explained. “These people will be able to work in all kinds of organizations. As Davenport usually does, is we’re filling a talent gap. And the huge need for mental health is extraordinary.”
Also extraordinary, according to Oliver, is the satisfaction of having a job that makes a big difference in people’s lives.
“I feel like we’re really doing good work and walking out of here knowing that we’ve helped the students at Davenport,” Oliver said.