Ben Locke

Ben
Locke

Senior Director for Counseling & Psychological Services,
Director for the Center for Collegiate Mental Health

Expertise:

  • Health & Medicine

Focus Areas:

  • Collegiate Mental Health

About

  • Presents and consults widely about college student mental health in higher education and has published dozens of peer reviewed articles on the topic
  • 19+ years of clinical experience in a wide variety of mental health settings, including wilderness therapy, psychiatric hospitals, group homes, community mental health and college counseling centers
  • Publishes the largest and most comprehensive annual report on college students seeking mental health treatment to date
  • Regularly speaks with top-tier media on college student mental health in higher education

Ben Locke is the associate director for clinical services at Penn State’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS); the founder and executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH), a practice/research network of over 380 counseling centers; and an affiliate faculty member in the counseling and clinical psychology departments at Penn State. Locke has over 19 years of clinical experience in a wide variety of mental health settings, including wilderness therapy, psychiatric hospitals, group homes, community mental health and college counseling centers. He presents and consults widely about college student mental health in higher education and has published dozens of peer reviewed articles on the topic.

In The Media

"...huge and increasing demand for services can no longer be ignored. The lack of planning ahead for growing service capacity is producing a supply and demand problem."

How Students Can Find Mental Health Services on Campus

from U.S. News and World Report September 21, 2018

"It's best not to 'make assumptions about what might be available,'" cautions Ben Locke, senior director for Counseling and Psychological Services at Penn State and the founding director of the university's Center for Collegiate Mental Health. "And everyone needs to understand the difference between mental health challenges that can be worked on, what can be done to feel well in the world, and what is beyond the scope" of a college counseling program."

What we're seeing in counseling centers around the country is actually a dramatic success, where the demand of students coming in is going up every year — those students are more and more representative of students who might be at risk to themselves to suicide. The challenge is: all of these national interventions did not plan ahead for the increased demand in clinical services." - Ben Locke

"Counselors point out that college students tend to have better access to mental health care than the average adult because counseling centers are close to where they live, and appointments are available at little to no cost. But without enough funding to meet the rising demand, many students are still left without the treatment they need, says Ben Locke, Penn State’s counseling director and head of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health."

"'It's unfortunate that people are characterizing this outcome as a crisis,' Ben Locke, who runs a national mental-health network for colleges and leads the counseling center at Penn State, told the AP. 'It's counterproductive because it's criticizing the exact people we've encouraged to come forward.'"

"The Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State believes that despite a more diverse college population with more lower-income students, students of color likely only account for a small percentage of the growing number of students seeking counseling services overall. 'It’s an important contributing factor, but I don’t think it explains this sudden growth,' said Ben Locke, executive director of CCMH. The report by CCMH found that demand for counseling services on college campuses has increased 38 percent over five years."

Balancing Response and Treatment

from Inside Higher Ed January 13, 2017

"'One possible interpretation of this is that counseling centers are shifting resources from routine, traditional forms of treatment toward rapid-access, emergency room-like services,' Ben Locke, senior director of counseling services at Pennsylvania State University and a lead researcher behind the report, said. 'Because most counseling centers have relatively flat funding, this comes at a cost, and the cost appears to be the amount of resources committed to ongoing treatment. Of course the concern there is that treatment helps students recover, and if treatment is not provided, then the student’s problems might get worse.'"

"'Counseling centers always make sure to provide emergency services in a short time period — that's our priority,' Locke said in the release. 'If you have strep throat, and go into a health center, they won’t tell you to come back in 2 weeks because they’re fully booked and they won’t give you a half prescription; you’ll get a full prescription for the medication you need.'”

"Campus counseling center leaders have said for years that they perceive there to be an increase in demand for their services. As New York magazine noted last year, surveys of college providers show counselors seem to always think things are getting worse. And this set of data confirms their suspicions, at least over the past five years. The data also explains why students have routinely complained about long wait times to get appointments at counseling centers, said Ben Locke, executive director of CCMH."

Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers

from The New York Times May 27, 2015

"'A month into the semester, a student is having panic attacks about coming to class, but the wait list at the counseling center is two to five weeks out. So something the student could recover from quickly might only get worse,' said Ben Locke, associate director of clinical services at Penn State University and the lead author of the Penn State report."

"Just a handful of days into the new semester at Penn State this fall, a student came to the counseling center in the throes of a panic attack, crying and upset, said Ben Locke, associate director of clinical services for the school's Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. The student tried to get support from family and was turned away. 'There's no question that the services we will give to (the student) will change (the student's) life ... and reducing stigma for those people is absolutely important and critical,' said Locke."

USC students' bid for an autumn break fails again

from LA Times October 21, 2015

"'Those who have worked in counseling centers for the last decade have been consistently ringing a bell saying something is wrong and things are getting worse," Locke said. "It's open for debate whether students have less coping skills or resilience than earlier generations.'"

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