Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson
College is a great time in peoples lives full of new experiences, people and knowledge. It’s also a period of transition that can cause large amounts of stress. Leaving home for the first time isn’t easy, nor is making all new friends and becoming responsible for yourself. The heavy workload of students as well as social problems and money issues can cause people to get stressed out. People get depressed. People get anxious, scared and lonely. The worst part is that a lot of people believe that they’ve got to fight this battle on their own. The good news is you don’t.
The University Counseling Center (UCC) is on your side. Paid for by student fees, the UCC’s doors are open to everyone and offer help to all those who ask for it. The center offers a variety of services, including short-term counseling individually, in groups and also for couples.
They offer career counseling and also have a state accredited level 1 alcohol and drug treatment program. Seemingly never ending amounts of work and stress combined with the fun, party atmosphere of college can take people down paths of substance use and abuse that they never intended to go down. The UCC has a staff of addiction counselors who are available to provide a range of services to students including assessment, prevention and education.
Fully accredited by the International Association of Counseling, the UCC provides high quality care to students and faculty alike.
Along with clinical services, the UCC participates in outreach activities. One of these activities is the “De-Stress Fest” that happens around final exams of each semester. As stress is one of the top mental health issues among college students, stress management is an important facet of the center’s operations. Outreach also involves going outside of the center and making services available to students in the event of a crisis.
The UCC operates in an educational role as well. Their staff includes a number of interns who are finishing up their academic career in psychology and becoming doctors.
“The need for our services continues to grow,” Kenneth Carlson, Director of the Counseling Center said. “Severity of some of the issues that we see seems to be increasing as well.”
According to national statistics, 25 percent of students who drop out of school, do so because of mental health reasons. “If we can impact those students, then we retain those students,” Carlson said.
My personal concern is that there are people who could benefit from the services provided at the UCC, but choose not to go. There is a “we can’t talk about this” stigma surrounding mental health that can possibly prevent people from seeking the help that they need and deserve. If it’s OK to go to the doctor when your stomach hurts, it should be OK to go to the doctor when your brain hurts, or your heart hurts.
The UCC practices doctor-patient confidentiality, so it is OK to fully explain yourself and express your feelings. However, students may sign a release form if they wish for a third party to be involved. There are limits to confidentiality. The UCC exists for student’s safety, so if information is disclosed that indicates danger, extra action may be taken.
I asked Carlson what he would like to say to freshman regarding the services available at the University Counseling Center. He explained that, “the loudest message I want to have incoming freshman know is that we are their advocate. We are here to assist them in any way that we can. If we’re not the service that they need we’ll help them find the service that they do need… We are their advocate, not their adversary.”
College is a time of great discovery and experience, but it’s not all like the movies. Life can get hard and seem like an uphill battle. When that happens, know that you don’t have to fight alone.
Ben Godfrey is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]