Previously, Florida A&M students were referred to outpatient programs and psychiatric practices not affiliated with the school. Now, after a year without an on-site psychiatrist, Student Health Services offers appointments with Dr. Wesley Runkle, located in Foote-Hilyer.
Runkle is available Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and students are referred through the Office of Counseling services, where they must be regularly engaged. The student must continue meeting with their counselor to monitor progress.
“Having a psychiatrist on site increases accessibility and alleviates some of the financial barriers students could face when in need of psychiatry services,” said Marquis Stewart, a licensed mental health counselor.
Psychiatrists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. They are medical doctors who can prescribe medication if necessary. They also determine if the symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental illnesses, or just psychological.
“It’s more than just giving someone a pill. You know, there’s so much more to it. Just by listening, understanding where they’re coming from, just by therapy, you can really help someone improve,” Runkle said.
Some students, especially mental health advocates who have already learned of Runkle joining Student Health Services, are excited about the new available resource.
“Having a psychiatrist at our school is a big step for FAMU. As a psychology major and as the newly elected president of Psychology Club, I understand how important mental health is, especially for black college students. I’m excited to let me club members know about this,” said Psychology Club president Jayla Rhodes.
Nearly 40 percent of college students reported feeling too depressed to function, in a study done by the American College Health Association. In this same study, 61 percent of college students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period.
“Sometimes there are cases where someone can’t healthily function in society. Sometimes mental health also affects the people around them, their family and friends,” said Runkle. “You can have someone that’s perfectly physically healthy but has poor mental health. Or someone that’s quadriplegic but with good mental health that can still have a good quality of life.”
To learn more about the psychiatry services or to make an appointment with the Office of Counseling Services, call (850) 599-3145.