Director of Mental Health Services steps down

Director of Mental Health Services Silvio Weisner stepped down from his position. Hatchet File Photo.
Director of Mental Health Services Silvio Weisner stepped down from his position. Hatchet File Photo.
Updated: Sept. 22, 2015 at 6:13 p.m.

Silvio Weisner, director of GW’s Mental Health Services, has stepped down, according to a University release.

Weisner came to GW in 2012, after the center went nearly a year without a permanent head. His two predecessors also stepped down suddenly after former employees said their leadership hurt the program. Officials will begin a national search for a new director – involving faculty, staff and students – starting this fall.

The release did not provide a date or reason for Weisner’s departure. He was not quoted in the release.

““We are grateful for Silvio’s leadership in overseeing the enhancement of Mental Health Services, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” Mark Levine, senior associate dean of students, said in the release.

Gillian Berry, an associate director of Mental Health Services, will serve as interim director.

During his three years at GW, Weisner oversaw an increase in staffing, hiring five specialized clinicians in the spring. The ceneter also moved from K Street to the Colonial Health Center in the Marvin Center last semester. Weisner also added permanent counseling services to the Mount Vernon Campus after three student suicides on the campus in 2014.

He also changed the structure of the center to a triage system that included initial assessments and crisis intervention services over the phone and group counseling sessions to cut down wait times. Students with more immediate needs were also pushed to the top of the list.

Officials have had to contend with student complaints about long wait times for counseling appointments. Last spring Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski called for shorter wait times and more specialists during a Board of Trustee’s meeting. During that presentation he said individual appointments, psychiatry appointments and after-hours crisis incidents had increased over the 2014-2015 school year.

Mental Health Services, formerly called the University Counseling Center, was one of three departments to see budget increases last year. Officials have added specialists over the last several years in areas like veterans and international students. A portion of this fall’s 3.4 percent tuition hike will also go to strengthen mental health resources on campus.

Mental health has been a priority for student leaders over the last several years, with Student Association presidential and executive board candidates making it a key portion of their campaigns.

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