The College Counseling Center: The New Normal

Many people, no matter their age demographic, are reluctant to admit that they need counseling. However, it is not a bad thing to need, or even to admit to – especially when that someone is in the college demographic.

Information provided by the American Psychological Association. Infographic by Robin Kane

College students endure most of the stressors that adults endure along with the added burden of college. Learning how to live on their own, dealing with unusual schedules and trying to maintain a balance between fun and business can be draining.

Now, more than ever, students are turning to counseling centers, seeking help for everything from depression to anxiety disorders.

Statistics suggest that nearly 1 in 10 students actively seek counseling on campus and that does not include those who seek help off campus. They often also receive prescriptions to help them with their problems.

However, for all the students that seek help, there are some who do not use it. They often succumb to the stigma that comes with seeing a counselor or therapist and do not want to become part of the statistics. They feel embarrassed, and colleges are doing what they can to fight that misconception.

Here at Wilson, the counseling center is proactive in making themselves open and appealing to students. They have handed out cupcakes, held a “pet week” where students could come by the waiting room and sit with a faculty member’s pet, and even hold open house hours, where they give candy and get to know the students.

They have also implemented different ways of letting students talk about their issues comfortably without having to schedule an appointment. There is a weekly time set aside for a “walk and talk” with different members of the counseling center staff

Students feeling that the counseling centers are accessible are not the only thing needed. Students themselves must become strong enough to ask for the help. Part of what may hold them back is the idea that they do not want to be seen as weak. They do not want to appear as though they are struggling because they want to seem independent.

The stigma attached to counseling is a negative one. Media often portrays those needing help as “crazy”, and no one is eager to be labeled that way.

Some students may fear that what they say in the counselor’s office may be reported back to their parents. This is not the case. Just like any other counselor, the counselors on a college campus are sworn to the same doctor/patient confidentiality and will only divulge information if a student’s health and safety is at risk.

Another hindering factor involves cost. Media also portray therapy as being a costly endeavor. The fact is, on most college campuses, the counseling center is either free-of-charge or charges only a small fee.

Wilson’s counseling center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free. Students can make an appointment ahead of time with a counselor or they can drop by and see if they are available. If it is an emergency and students need immediate help, counselors will do what they can to help.

Even if students do not feel like they need a full counseling session, they should stop by and say hello. The friendly staff would love to get to know all the students at Wilson.

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