Florida Gulf Coast University has plans to build an $8 million counseling center on its campus. The 27,000 square-foot facility is expected to open in fall of 2019.
The groundbreaking for the new center is next week. The center will serve as a clinic where students will train for careers in mental health services.
"What this clinic does is expand our training opportunities, but we get to leverage those training opportunities on behalf of the community," said Madelyn Isaacs, Ph.D, who serves as chair of FGCU's Department of Counseling.
People in Southwest Florida will be able to receive affordable, supervised counseling at the clinic. Isaacs sees a great need for expanded counseling services in the area, and said that an estimated one in five people will have a serious mental health issue.
"If we have more than a million people in this community, there's a need for 200,000 clients to be seen, probably over multiple sessions," she said.
Maryam Romagosa, a graduate student in FGCU's counseling program, believes the center will help fill a growing need for more mental health providers.
"That's what I'm most excited for - the preparedness for the graduate students to be able to receive this opportunity, and enhance their skills," Romagosa said.
Alise Bartley, Ph.D, is a visiting professor in FGCU's counseling program. She hopes more people who need counseling overcome the stigma of asking for help - especially when the welfare of their families are at stake.
"It is really challenging to admit that our family is not working, and one of our roles is to not point fingers," Bartley said. "Our role is to figure out...how to be certain that your family is the best it can be."