Removing Barriers in Mental Health, Counseling Services Free to All BSU Students

Bemidji State University’s Student Center for Health & Counseling is now offering free mental health counseling for all students.

Dr. Sarah Cronin, assistant professor of psychology, and 11 Bemidji State psychology majors conducted a campus evaluation to identify barriers students faced when utilizing on-campus counseling services. They found that the cost per session was one of the largest barriers students faced when seeking help. Cronin and her team hoped that their study would lead to significant change in the center, encouraging more students to seek help when they need it.

“Research shows having access to mental health resources improves retention, so I reached out to the counseling center to collaborate on an evaluation to access the barriers students experience,” Cronin said. “We had a survey and focus groups. The evaluation results, student voices and great mental health advocates among our staff and administration helped create this change.”

In addition to existing 50-minute counseling sessions for students, new 30-minute sessions have also been added to ensure more students can be seen by counselors. The new sessions are designed to make counseling services more accessible for students’ schedules.

Yvette Anderson, director of the Student Center for Health & Counseling, hopes the different session times will allow more students to receive the help they need.

“When a student says they need help, our goal is for them to come in and see somebody right away,” she said. “Our focus is to be very student centered. We want to get people in the door, meet them and see what they need. We are trying to get rid of all of the barriers.”

The counseling center uses interactive methods to provide a safe space for students to talk with a trained professional. Counseling provides the opportunity for students to learn more about themselves, how to make healthier decisions, identify goals and gain the confidence and life skills to achieve them.

“In counseling it’s okay to talk about anything that is affecting you, from classes, relationships, stress and loneliness to campus, local or world events. The staff are here to meet students’ individualized needs,” Anderson said. “We will continue to focus on ease of scheduling and quick access to a counselor.”

In addition to providing counseling services for students, the Student Center for Health & Counseling is also a fully-functioning clinic offering medical evaluations and treatment, physical exams, family planning resources, laboratory services, allergy injections, immunizations, medical supplies and diagnosis and treatment of a mental illness. The center can also make appropriate referrals to local medical professionals for specialized services.


MN State logoBemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding. For more, visit or find us at BemidjiState on most of your favorite social media networks.