You might be aware of counseling and disability services available on campus, yet you might not be aware of the specifics of these resources. You may not be sure about qualifications and the process to reach out. Or because you may have heard some rumors from friends, you might be afraid to knock on the door of Counseling Services and/or Disability Support Services. So we, the Senate Health and Wellness Committee, are going to write a biweekly column series “Health and Wellness for Your Awareness”, to introduce various information and staff members from Counseling Services and Disability Support Services, so that students can break the myths, know the resources and utilize it!
For our first topic, I’d like to clarify some information on Counseling Services. There are six counseling staff members available for clinical hours, which are times for individual and group counseling, during weekdays 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Crisis counseling, for those who are in acute need for assistance, is available during these times via walk-in and after-hours with the assistance of Campus Safety (309-341-7979). Counseling Services also offer later appointment times for those with tight schedules. Students usually raise concerns regarding Counseling Services being understaffed, yet considering there was only one director, one full-time and one part-time counselor just four years ago, staff members have increased significantly and they actively work to accommodate more clinical hours offered. Thanks to that, no student has been added to a waitlist since 2016. A waitlist is different from not getting an appointment on the same day you request one. It is placing your name on a list and getting an appointment only if/when one becomes available.
Are you worried about how and where to start counseling? Janell McGruder, Assistant Dean for Student Wellness and Director of Counseling Services, pointed out that it is important to be proactive when it comes to your mental health. Don’t wait for something to be actually going on to make a connection with Counseling Services. Start by doing an intake session, even if you think that you will never need a counseling appointment. You do not need to start counseling right away. During an individual intake session, counseling staff will guide you to the right course of therapy: individual or group counseling, or several self-guided therapies. Even though you think that you are not in serious need, it is always good to get the intake done and see what options are available. You could also go to one of the Mental Health Screening Days hosted by Counseling Services at the beginning of each term, to see if you are displaying some symptoms that may need some help. The fastest way to make an appointment is to call Counseling Services (309-341-7492) and be open about the times you are available.
Besides individual, group, crisis counseling, consultation appointments (a way to just ask basic questions about counseling and resources) and self-guided therapy (which includes pet therapy, light therapy, biofeedback, and bibliotherapy). There are also three Counseling Services Peer Educators, who are ready to give workshops on Counseling Services and various topics on mental health for any organization or group of individuals. If you and your group want to promote more awareness on Counseling Services and mental health issues, use the outreach request form on the Counseling Services website to invite the peer educators.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental issues are not just limited to mental disorders or traumatic events, but also being aware of what kind of person you are, and being honest about how you are feeling. It is just like when you casually decide to take a rest when your muscles are sore after a hard workout for your body. Don’t be afraid to talk about how your mind and feelings are doing, take the step to start the counseling process. Most importantly, if you have any concern or suggestion, reach out to Counseling Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) anytime!
Detailed Counseling Services information is available through their website:
(https://www.knox.edu/offices/health-and-counseling-services/counseling-services), Facebook (Knox College Counseling Services) and Instagram (@knoxcollegecounselingservices)