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College counseling centers can seem intimidating in theory: you may not know exactly what goes on inside but know that it exists on campus. So what exactly can you use a college counseling center for?
You might be surprised at all the ways a college counseling center and staff can help make your college life easier! From stress management and mental health screenings to dealing with homesickness and relationship issues, a great counseling center can provide a ton of fabulous resources for you. Consider visiting your campus center if you need or want help with:
- Homesickness and adjustment issues. Starting college is a major life change. After all, when else do you leave your family and friends, start an entirely new academic program and structure, have to adjust to being on your own, are required to stay on top of your finances (not to mention do a million things with very limited funds), live in a tiny space with someone you’ve never met before, and somehow keep your chin up? If you’re homesick, having problems adjusting to college, or just want to process out everything you’re adjusting to, stop in and see what resources are available to you.
- Mental health treatment and maintenance. If you were seeing a counselor before you started college and/or are taking prescription medication for a mental health issue, see if you can receive the same care from your college counseling center. Connecting with your campus center can be a great way to make sure your transition to college stays as smooth and healthy as possible.
- Mental health issues that are common in college students (e.g., depression and anxiety). If you find yourself struggling with some challenges — like possible depression or anxiety — that you didn’t experience before you started college, make an appointment to talk to someone in the counseling center. Many of the counselors there will be specifically trained in dealing with issues that college students face … meaning they’ll be a great resource from the moment you first connect with them.
- Difficulty dealing with any major life changes. Things might have been great when you started school. But since then, you may have experience some major, difficult life changes, like the death of someone close to you or the end of an important relationship. The counselors at your campus counseling center can help you through these changes so that your academics — and general enjoyment of your time in school — won’t suffer.
- Screenings for any health issues you may be concerned about. If you’re concerned you have an emerging health issue (like an eating disorder, depression, or substance abuse problem), the health center may offer screenings that can help you better gauge what’s going on. Some centers even offer screenings online; you can answer a little questionnaire on your own, usually through the center website.
- Eating disorders and body image issues. Eating disorders and other similar or related health concerns are serious illnesses that require attention. If you’re concerned about yourself or a friend, check with the counseling center to see what resources they provide. From support groups to individual counseling, you might be surprised at all the ways the staff make themselves available to struggling students.
- Substance abuse issues. Nearly every college student knows at least one fellow student whose alcohol use gets a little out of hand. And just as many know someone whose drug use is clearly interfering with other aspects of their life in not-so-positive ways. If you’re concerned about your own substance use (or abuse), give the center a call, send ’em an email, or even check online to see what resources are available to help.
- Stress management. Sadly, stress and college students go together as frequently as peanut butter and jelly. Sometimes, however, the amount of stress in a student’s life can seem (and actually be) overwhelming. Whether you just want to talk to someone about all the stress you have or are looking for specific ways to help you deal with your stress a little better, the counseling center can help. You definitely won’t be the first student who came in looking for help dealing with college stress!
- Any other major issues. The ways a good college counseling center can help you are seemingly endless. If you have concerns that don’t appear on this list, call or email your campus center to see if they can help you. Even if they can’t, they likely can connect you with someone or somewhere close to campus who can.
Adapted from What Can I Use the College Counseling Center for? by Kelci Lynn Lucier.