Mental health programs make it easy to ask for help

Emmy Farstad
Copy Editor

Students can seek out professional help in the Wellness CenterThomas Marra | Hudsonian

Students can seek out professional help in the Wellness Center

For college students with mental illness, asking for help isn’t always easy. Fortunately for Hudson Valley students, the campus offers several resources to assist those who are struggling.

Issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and ADHD, among others, can often create challenges for college students, and, in many cases, students may find themselves unable to cope with these struggles on their own.

While Hudson Valley Community College offers a variety of tools and support for attendees, students may often feel uncomfortable reaching out for help.

According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 73.1 percent of counseling center directors reported “an increase in the severity of student mental health concerns and related behavior on campus.”

One in four college students have a diagnosable mental illness, and of that group, 40 percent avoid seeking help.

Hudson Valley student Acadia Pezzolesi, who suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, said she would be hesitant to reach out for help through the school, mainly due to the fear that other students might find out and treat her differently.

“I have no problem with people knowing I have a mental illness, but I wouldn’t want them to know I was reaching out to the school for help because I would be worried they would see it as a sign of weakness or failure,” said Pezzolesi.

She also expressed concern that, upon learning she had asked for help, her classmates might not treat her equally and “wouldn’t be upfront with me because they’re afraid of how I’d react.”

There has been an increase in the amount of students seeking help through university counseling centers. Boston University’s recent study results indicated the number of students who sought counseling and support in a time of crisis has more than doubled in the last four years.

Larry Ellis, associate director of the Wellness Center and Counseling at Hudson Valley, feels that students often feel more comfortable coming forward when struggling, “particularly around mid-terms and finals week, but a great deal of students with mental illnesses often visit the Wellness Center for support eight or nine times a semester.”

Ellis believes most students don’t really feel embarrassed or nervous about visiting the Wellness Center.

“Students usually feel comfortable because the Wellness Center is inside the school Health Office, so other students have no way of knowing why they’re visiting,” he said.

Ellis suggests that part of the reason more students are coming to the Wellness center is because counselors utilize more modern and current tools for students, including adult coloring books, weekly yoga, a biofeedback room and “Heart Beats,” a therapeutic drumming session.

Complimentary guided mindfulness meditation sessions are currently being offered to students every Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Wellness Center, led by Michelle Thivierge. Meditation may help students struggling with mental illness because it is believed to reduce stress and anxiety, increase attention span and improve interpersonal connections.

For further information about Hudson Valley’s Wellness Center, or to meet with a counselor, students can call (518) 629-7320 or stop by the Siek Campus Center, Room 260.

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