Chauncey | Bowden
For me, the counseling center was the forbidden part of the Student Health Center. I had no qualms about visiting the women’s health center to talk about birth control options, or going to get my flu shot downstairs. I knew that the counseling center was always there, but I had never considered visiting. I made sure to tell incoming freshmen that it was a wonderful place full of resources, but I never dreamed that I would be the one using them. I didn’t want to admit it, but I had stigmatized the student health center.
Last March, I dealt with one of the most difficult things I have ever faced in my life – heartbreak. Some of you may have been expecting me to say something about the loss of a loved one, or a diagnosis of a terminal illness. In fact, it may even sound silly to some of you.
I possessed this same line of thinking. Why was I being so ridiculous? It wasn’t even that serious, right? I was completely embarrassed about my inability to cope with the situation, but I soon realized that it wasn’t something that I could deal with on my own. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping, and I cried at least 75 percent of the day. My mom pointed out that the student health center had a counseling center that was readily available to help me; a resource that may not be so easily accessible after graduation.
When I visited the counseling center for the first time, I assumed that it would be my first and last, this was not the case. Upon visiting the counseling center I met with a triage counselor. According the NC State Counseling Center website, “This meeting is not a counseling session but an opportunity for the triage counselor to learn about your situation and determine your needs.”
I was surprised when the triage counselor took the time to ask me what I looked for in a counselor. She asked if I’d be more comfortable with a male or female, and even went so far as to match me with someone she felt was knowledgeable about dealing with relationships.
From there, we set a time for me to come back and meet with my counselor; I was still in shock. I was expecting to walk into the counseling center heavy burdened, and walk out happy and overjoyed. I was expecting a quick fix, and although I didn’t get one, I walked away from my appointment with the triage counselor very optimistic.
I met with my counselor once a week throughout the rest of the semester. I looked forward to my meetings with her, because I could feel things getting better. As a rising senior, I was angry with myself for not taking advantage of these services earlier on, and unfortunately I didn’t visit the counseling center before the situation had the chance to affect my grades; this phenomenon is not unique however. In fact, according to the counseling center website, “Over twice as many students reported significant negative academic impact from emotional distress than medical concerns (flu/strep, etc.).”
Recently I learned about the “Stop the Stigma” campaign currently going on on our campus. According to the website, the goal of this movement is to “raise awareness of mental health issues on our campus, help students understand how common these issues are, and help every student benefit from the treatment available at NC State and in the larger community.” As someone who has previously stigmatized mental health issues, I recognize the importance of such movements.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “more than 45 percent of young adults who stopped attending college because of mental health related reasons did not request accommodations. 50 percent of them did not access mental health services and supports either.” As students, it is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We often place so much emphasis on our academic success that we neglect self-care practices.
Self-care can include getting enough sleep, treating yourself to a mani-pedi now and then, or even playing basketball with friends in Carmichael Gym. Sometimes, self-care includes small fixes, however sometimes you need help from others, such as the counselors in the counseling center. When I first visited the counseling center, I had tried getting advice from friends, family, even self-help books – nothing worked!
There is nothing wrong with recognizing the gravity of your situation, and asking for help. I have grown tremendously from my experiences with the counseling center. It is no longer that “forbidden” section of the student health center that I stay away from. And although I do not currently frequent the counseling center, I find comfort in knowing that it will always be there, should I need it.
- 45% of college students & 44 % of NC State students reported feeling hopeless in the past year.
- 7% of college students & 7% of NC State students have seriously considered suicide in the past year.
- 32% of college students & 27% of NC State students reports being so depressed in the past year that it was difficult to function.