By: Allie Lyncha '21
The framework of the mind is a spider web of connections, connecting to every experience, emotion, thought, and action. It is when the spider web gets tangled that effects the well-being of the individual. There are more stressors than there have ever been and is on a scale that goes as wide as the world. The University of Mount Union takes that into account, assisting their students with any type of problem that may arise.
Sometimes, things are especially hard when students come into college for the first time. First-year students in particular deal with the new independence after many left the constant dependent lifestyle at home. Some may have never dealt with sharing a room, bathroom, or even being far away from a significant other.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, seniors often struggle with the idea that once they graduate, they are to head off to a world completely on their own, tracking down jobs and encountering new financial situations. That said, the Office of Counseling Services is in place to help everyone, no matter how large or how small the perceived issue may be.
Dr. Francine Packard, director of counseling services, says that mental health should be treated the same as any other type of health. “If you have a cold, or even the flu, you are going to seek help to try to feel better, and mental health is just the same.”
Mount Union’s counseling services have recently undergone a large change, including new staff members, new ideas, and a new frame of mind.
“We want to help the University by helping the individuals within it,” said Packard. “By having one-on-one connections, we are able to help those who need it in a confidential setting.”
She also has plans for the future, increasing accessibility for everyone.
“We are opening walk-in hours from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Office of Student Affairs, in order to better reach those on campus,” said Packard. “This could include anything from a continued conversation to just being a minute conversation that someone may need to get off their chest.”
Along with making counseling accessible to students on campus, there are also plans in place to implement an E-Therapy system to help those facing issues adjusting to life abroad when they travel with a study abroad program. Many times it is easy to adjust to a new place where it may be a much more laid back lifestyle, but issues can occur when coming back to Western culture where things are high stress.
This, as anything else would also be confidential. Many students tend to shy away from the service out of fear that what they say may be shared, but everything is kept quiet. The same goes for bystanders getting help for a friend.
“Students will reach out to us and inform us about someone who needs help. We are happy to reach out to those they are concerned about,” said Packard. “However, many referents want to hear what happens after that, but we cannot share that. We want everyone to understand that what we do is truly confidential.”
In all, the therapy services have been highly successful, growing by a third in regards to those who seek out help. In the past three years, students at Mount Union as well as students across the country have showed that they are more willing and open to seeking out help and taking the steps to where they want to be in life. With the many available resources on campus, the Mount Union staff works to have a special atmosphere where all are accepted and valued, no matter their differences. Including mental health as an important component of daily life provides a safe environment for the campus community, inviting all to join and take advantage of the opportunity for growth academically and individually.