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Stanford Report, September 11, 2002

'Brewing problems' swell demand for Help Center counseling services

On the morning of Sept. 11, the Help Center staff went into overdrive -- and stayed there for months, says David Rasch, director of the employee counseling center.

The center's seven part-time counselors initially were busy responding to dozens of requests to speak at faculty and staff groups. "There were a lot of feelings about what had happened. People at work were having difficulties getting back to normal," Rasch says. Many employees made one or two appointments with counselors to seek help in dealing with their feelings about the attacks. But as the bad news kept coming last fall and winter, counselors encountered a growing number of employees with more difficult, complicated problems. "A lot of things seemed to be popping. People had problems brewing that were brought to the surface. It was the normal stuff we deal with, but people were feeling the pressure."

In October, counselors saw a 50 percent increase in the number of people who came to the center for individual counseling, and caseloads remained 10 percent higher than usual until July, Rasch says. Employees made use of outside mental health care services as well; the number of insurance claims for mental health care services filed by employees rose 38 percent in 2002, according to Human Resources department statistics.

Lately, there's been a palpable lightening of the workload at the Help Center -- and a little time for reflection. In the midst of the horror, "it was remarkable the positive things that were pulled forward for people during that time, the levels of compassion," Rasch says. "It was the worst of human nature calling forth the best."

--Barbara Palmer


David Rasch

David Rasch