Spreading the Wealth on Mental Health

Southern University Counseling Center where students are able to receive specialized counseling services from

certified mental health professionals. (Debrandin Brown/DIGEST)

Mental health matters. It should be placed on a pedestal along with other responsibilities that you have in your life. Your mind runs similarly to your body, and you cannot go far if you’re tired. That’s why Southern University has the University Counseling Center as an option.

The Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m and focuses on all points of the spectrum of trauma(childhood, emotional, physical, sexual, etc.).The University Counseling Center does not discriminate and is open to all enrolled students such as graduates and athletes. The duration of seeing patients varies as it depends on the situation and the patient, but it’s generally 12 sessions per academic year. Some services are short-term due to high demand, less staff, and COVID-19 protocols but they will still make every effort to work with you in order for you to reach a resolution.

It has been an influx of patients this school year mostly because students now know about the University Counseling Center, and we are finally back on campus getting back to “normal”. Ms. Stone states, “We try to help them navigate how to improve academically but we like to try to get to those underlying issues [such as anxiety or depression.]”

Ms. Leah Stone, M.S. is a Mental Health Therapist, a Licensed Counselor, as well as a National Certified Counselor at the University Counseling Center. She specializes in trauma in all sorts as well as crisis management. She has been at the Center since July 2019 and loves the care and support she is able to give to students in need.

This time of the year is when the Counseling Center sees a great deal of traffic flowing as it is the time of midterms, and the weather is changing from sunshine and hot to chiller temperatures. Ms. Stone states that she sees 3-5 people come in everyday to sign an intake packet now, even during COVID. “...The reason why we see an influx is the fact that midterms is kind of that point where students find out where they stand academically...at that point that’s where reality kind of ‘hits them’”. Students may think to themselves, “Oh maybe I don’t have it all together” when they thought they did, or they realized it at first but kept pushing it to the side. Then they feel as if they do need some sort of additional assistance to smooth the process along.

Ms. Stone also wants to be able to erase the stigma behind mental health and getting help in the Black community, as it is perfectly normal. Getting help does not mean you’re “crazy” or isn’t a taboo subject; it means you’re putting yourself and your future first. She declares, “Mental health is just as important as your physical health...we have to be balanced and making sure we’re taking care of ourselves. And so, definitely working at an HBCU is kind of very rewarding.” Because of the high demand of patients, the Center has had to put some students are on the waiting list. Stone gives some very important tips to take care of yourself and to utilize in everyday life. “...Self care but also having a solid support system...self care of course looks different for everyone.”

Some students might like journaling, exercising, or carving out time for themselves away from others. She also nurtures that stress can be caused by lack of time management skills. As a result of this, students should create a routine in order for you to prioritize the important things over the things you can do another time. Make a to-do list for the week or the day of so you’re able to tackle your activities efficiently.

“When we think about college the goal is to, you know, graduate. Go to class, graduate, and have some fun but I think it is overlooked as to how you’re going through things.” Ms. Stone goes on, “Though you may feel sad or down... it’s not that you’re broken or something is wrong with you, it’s just the fact that this is an experience…so I’m just here to fill your toolbag and teach you how to utilize those tools to be overall healthy.”

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