Getting Mental Health Help at HCC

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Published on April 21, 2016

A 2014 survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that 47.4 percent of college students have some type of anxiety. At Housatonic, many students suffer from stress and anxiety difficulties and do not know how to cope with it. I am one of those students. It took a lot of time for me to accept this and now I know where to turn to for help.

There are many people on campus that students can turn to for help. For students who have an anxiety disorder they can go to the Disability Support Services office and speak with Lynne Langella, Academic Support Coordinator.

Langella’s office is located in Lafayette Hall, Room B116. Students that have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder can go to this office and speak with her. To get specific accommodations, students must have their therapist fill out a specific form that can be found on the HCC website and turn it in. If certain circumstances occur, students can speak to the office about offering extensions on exams, if necessary.

Housatonic also offers a Counseling Center that is available to all students, in Lafayette Hall, Room A108. Any student can go there to speak with a counselor. Walk-ins are more than welcome.

One of the counselors is Linda Wolfson. Wolfson stated, “We are available to all students, and will help with anything from counseling to helping students find outside help if it is needed as we do not do clinical counseling.”

The Counseling Center will also help students with academic advising. “This is helpful because if a student does not want it revealed that they are coming for personal counseling they can say that they are coming for advising.” said Wolfson.

The entrance and secretary desk in the Counseling Center (Photo by the author.)

The entrance and secretary desk in the Counseling Center (Photo by the author.)

Many students, myself included, have considered dropping out of college because their anxiety was too overwhelming. Yet, as Langella said, “I think the more in control of a situation you are, the better you will feel. If full time is too much, part time or even taking one class would be better than dropping out completely.”

Counseling, even for the little things that seem overwhelming, can help students realize that maybe it isn’t as bad as they think. Wolfson said, “What I tell my students is to rate the stress from one to ten and to then think of worse situations that they have been in. This makes them realize that they have been through things worse than this and that they can get through this present situation.”

Several other tactics are to try and prioritize things properly and get the bigger and more important things done first. Students can also do a breathing exercise where they deeply breathe for 4 seconds and release it for 4 seconds. This focuses the breathing, which lowers the anxiety levels.

For most of my college career I find these, and other tactics, to cope very effective. When I went to a therapist, she told me to utilize my love of creative writing. I immediately bought a small journal that I can carry around and started writing.

One of the first things she told me to do was to identify all of my emotions and fears and characterize them. So I did. I found this easier to manage each emotion.

Another thing that I do is I write positive messages and mantras in this book. I try to get myself to focus on the positive and to take a step back from the craziness of life and remind myself to breathe. Speaking to people helps more than some would think. It helps anxiety sufferers realize that they are not going through this alone.

If you are ever going through anxiety, whether it is chronic or random, it is okay to seek help.

You are not alone. The counseling center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in A108 in Lafayette Hall.