Struggling with mental health can put a strain on student success. The winter months and the addition of Covid-19 may have further impacted students this semester. The counseling center on campus is now offering online counseling for students during this challenging time.
“Students can contact us by phone or email and we set them up with a first appointment. At the first appointment we lay out the options we have at the counseling center as well as referrals we can make out to the community. We try to set the table that best fits the needs of the student. Students are usually able to get an appointment within a day or two,” Oliver says.
Sarah Oliver, the director of the counseling center at St. Ambrose University, helps students get the support needed. Oliver has been with the university since 2017 and has made adjustments to the department so more students can receive a timely treatment.
There are certain times of the year where the counseling center gets more busy, so appointments may be harder to schedule. There are also options for students who have not yet decided if therapy is the best choice. Tao Connect is an online therapy service that students can gain access to through student emails.
“On Tao Connect if a student is struggling to see if they want to come to therapy, they can go online to research and learn about a variety of conditions to see if they would like to seek treatment. There are modules where students can learn about mental health topics. Students can login to Tao Connect anonymously. We try to give everyone six sessions per semester,” Oliver says.
As mental health continues to be prominent on campus, some students have ideas on how St. Ambrose could improve counseling. MacKenzie Clary, a junior at St. Ambrose, has some thoughts on how to better the experience of students wanting counseling.
“An outreach program that helps with immediate needs should be put in place. The counseling services we have are nice, but being put on a waitlist can be disheartening. Maybe a hotline or online chat box, both Covid-19 safe options, could be made,” Clary says.
With only three staff members in the counseling center, Oliver says there is an access issue that makes it difficult to cater to around 2,500 students. However, the counseling center would never turn a student away. There is also an Eastern Iowa Helpline that can be reached at (844)430-0375. The Eastern Iowa Helpline helps with mental health at no cost.
“Stress is consistently high, motivation and focus levels are low, and with covid, it is hard for students to release stress in some ways. Social life is what a lot of students look forward to when coming to school, and that is heavily limited right now. Without that support, make sure to be checking on your friends,” Clary says.
Clary is not the only student on campus that views mental health as a serious issue on campus. Mckenna Schlickman, a junior at St. Ambrose, understands the importance of the counseling center.
“I think it is great to have a therapist on campus and to be able to talk to them about stress and other things. I think that mental health is a bigger problem on campus than people realize, especially with being away from family and being stressed with school,” Schlickman says.
There are many options for students on campus who are seeking help. Counseling with a person may be best for some, while others may excel on the online counseling format.
YouTube- @SAU Bees Mental Health Care