Counseling and therapy are terms often used interchangeably in the field of psychology. Although it focuses on many of the same things, the advice may be different for everyone. Some people may want and need more long-term personal work, while others may not.
The thought of advice can seem overwhelming for a number of reasons: 1. Accessibility 2. Affordability 3. Confidentiality 4. Stigma 5. Vulnerability 6. Misinformation and the list goes on. Recognizing that you might need help is a huge step that requires a lot of thought and self-awareness. However, one of the hardest parts of the process is asking for help. Everyone deserves help, regardless of diagnoses, financial situation, and limiting belief that “other people have it worse.” While this statement may or may not be true, it does not mean that what you are feeling is any less valid.
Chasidy Faith, director and education coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stout Counseling Center, has some important things to say about students getting the help they might need. “We would like students to know that if you are having difficulty, there is help,” Faith said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean advice for everyone, but if that’s what helps, we’re here for you.”
So how does the Counseling Center actively work to bridge the gap between struggling students and the help available? Faith says through education and conversation. “We offer a multitude of presentations and outreach programs, many of which are led by our PRO (Peers Reaching Out) Wellness Students – peer health educators,” Faith said. “We share information about the services we offer, self-help tools that students can easily access, how to support someone struggling with mental health issues, and more. We answer questions, explain privacy, and encourage people to call and ask questions if they have any.
The UW-Stout counseling center, like many others, had to deal with open counseling positions last year due to the pandemic. “We have worked hard to not impact student experience or access to services due to our open advisory positions,” Faith said. “During COVID-19, counseling centers across the country have seen a decrease in student attendance; however, it seems to be increasing again,” she added.
The counseling center currently does not have a waiting list for services and has transitioned to a counseling model, in which it offers 30-minute appointments that focus on meeting students’ immediate needs for the semester.
As the number of clients accessing counseling center services is down slightly (although again this year at their 5-year average), the counseling center has been able to appropriately manage the clinical load this fall semester. “Although our utilization rates seem to be rapidly returning to pre-covid numbers, we were still able to get students in for their first appointment within three to five working days, which has been an internal target” , said Faith.
Advice center statistics
See you from July 1 to November 1. 12:
• 2019: 1,796
• 2020: 1,324
• 2021: 1,613
According to Faith, “The graph above shows our monthly year-to-date total of unique clients who accessed counseling services. So you can see that at the end of October 2021, 362 unique students are came to us for services. This is compared to just 266 in 2020-21 and a five-year average of 357.” The counseling center currently offers in-person and remote counseling appointments for students.
Services offered by the consultation center
• Individual, couple and group counseling
• Two programs: “education on alcohol and other drugs” and “awareness and prevention”
• Crisis appointments, consultations for questions or concerns, and self-help resources, such as SilverCloud (a self-help resource for depression, anxiety, stress, sleep and resilience for Stout students and employees)
Counseling staff encourages students to familiarize themselves with these resources now, so that it is easier to access help later if needed. They would also like students to know about the additional crisis resources for mental health issues located on the back of all UW-Stout ID cards. Here you will find contacts for:
• Northwest Connections (888-552-6642)
• The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255)
• A line of text (text “hopeline” to 741741)
Take a moment to locate these resources on your ID card so you know how to find them in case you or a friend needs immediate assistance.