Abraham Lincoln statue on Carthage College?s campus.
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Fortifying its commitment to provide mental health care for students who need it, Carthage has secured a substantial gift from the Elinor Siklossy Foundation.

Through her philanthropic foundation, mental health advocate Ellie Siklossy pledged $475,000 over a five-year period. The lead gift enables the College to move ahead with a key component in its strategy: making services more accessible to students by moving the Health and Counseling Center to the main floor of the Todd Wehr Center.

Carthage welcomes additional donations to maximize the care it can provide. In all, the College is seeking to raise nearly $2 million for counseling facilities and long-term staffing.

“We are extremely grateful for donors like Ellie who partner with the College to effect large-scale change,” says Bridget Haggerty, vice president for advancement. “Every contribution to mental health services on campus strengthens our holistic commitment to student success, ensuring we can attend to students’ wellness even as we prepare them academically for life beyond Carthage.”

The center’s new space should offer a quieter atmosphere and more central location than the current one in the N.E. Tarble Athletic and Recreation Center. The TWC also houses the Center for Student Success, the Intercultural Center, student mailboxes, and The Caf.

“Relocating the Health and Counseling Center closer to other core services that students regularly use makes our mental health services more visible,” says President John Swallow. “By showing students that going in for a counseling appointment is as normal as meeting with an advisor, we can destigmatize care.”

Increasingly essential

Given the 12 years she served as president of the Palm Beach (Florida) County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, no one has to convince Ms. Siklossy mental health is a massive national priority. She emphasizes the three E’s: early, excellent, and enough treatment.

“The brain, like other body organs, sometimes needs treatment to improve its functioning,” she says. “It is smart, sensible and very important to seek help rapidly for depression, anxiety and other brain-related problems.”

The concerning trend is only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In surveys conducted by the American College Health Association, nearly 75% of undergraduate students in fall 2021 reported moderate or serious psychological distress (up from 69% just two years earlier).

Meeting students’ personal needs is just as vital to Carthage’s own well-being. For years, mental illness has been a primary reason American college students drop out of school.

Rooted in the memorable experiences her son Leon ’95 had as a student, Ms. Siklossy has become a fervent supporter of the College. She’s confident the campus community can turn the tide in the mental health battle, merging its genuine commitment with expert guidance.

“Carthage is doing something really excellent at the right time,” she said.
Over the past few years, Carthage has ramped up its mental health support with a multi-pronged approach:

  • In-Person Counseling: The College recently added another full-time counselor, making on-site services more accessible. Free, short-term counseling is available to students while classes are in session, either by appointment or during walk-in hours.
  • Teletherapy: Made possible by previous donations, a partnership with Uwill connects students to licensed therapists for help via video, chat, text, or phone. That reduced the typical wait from nine days to one or two days and allowed students to continue receiving care from home during breaks.
  • Faculty/Staff Training: More than 140 faculty and staff members have completed the Mental Health First Aid training course, learning how to spot warning signs and direct students to campus and community resources.

The Health and Counseling Center provides holistic care for students’ mental and physical well-being. In addition to counseling staff, the center houses a campus nurse who diagnoses and treats minor illnesses and injuries.

Renovations to the center are underway and should wrap up this fall. The new facility will feature three offices, two exam rooms, and private restrooms.

To make a gift toward Carthage’s mental health initiative, please contact Bridget Haggerty at bhaggerty1@carthage.edu or 262-551-6572. Naming opportunities are available for individual exam rooms or the center as a whole.