There is no doubt that this is a pivotal and stressful time for all of us right now. With midterms, deadlines, life changes and such, it is often easy to forget about self-care. We push our emotions to the side, ignore red flags and put off our basic needs.
Thankfully, Oct. 11 was National Depression Screening Day, and the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) held a depression and anxiety screening of its own for our community.
The open screening was a preventative measure as well as a check-in with students and staff alike. It was held in both the Sojourner Truth Library lobby and the Student Union Building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in an attempt to reach as many people as possible.
The goal of such a screening was to raise awareness of mental health issues and needs of the community. It is a form of early intervention.
Students were able to go to this laid-back event, fill out a quick survey and receive immediate feedback from one of the counselors in a one-on-one sit down. There was no diagnosis or pressure to come in to the center, but rather it provided an opportunity for people who may not have had the courage to seek help on their own.
After the evaluation, the counselors provided resources for the surveyors such as information on workshops and their own number for appointments.
“Screening is just as important as an annual check up,” said Dr. Gweneth M. Lloyd, D.S.W., LCSW, Director of the PCC.
Lloyd emphasized the balance of both mental and physical wellness.
The event itself garnered about 130 students, some of which did follow up with calling the PCC for more in-depth appointments. However, to Dr. Lloyd, numbers do not matter for if it even helped one person, she considers it a success.
Although this is a nationally observed day, the Counseling Center was too understaffed and under budgeted for almost a decade to hold screenings.
Now, with a full, dedicated staff they have the means to perform this kind of outreach. Doing outreach like the free public screening heightens not only the awareness of mental health, but also the demand for service. Additionally, it is a way to get the staff to interact with the students in an effort to become familiar faces.
Lloyd expressed how excited she is for the team of five clinical counselors, one of which being the coordinator of the screening event Senior Counselor Meghan Shea, LCSW-R.
With this professional team, the Center is always busy.
“It is challenging work,” Dr. Lloyd said. “But I must say we have a staff that is committed, hardworking and care for and love the students.”
There is a counselor assigned each day for strictly walk-ins, calls and crisis situations; they will never turn somebody away at the Counseling Center.
Although their appointments can get booked up quickly, in circumstances where a student needs immediate attention, they are quick to respond.
For example, if a student were to call, they will ask a series of questions to see how dire the situation is in order to accommodate. The questions include whether the student is thinking of hurting, harming or killing oneself, whether the student has suffered a loss or trauma, or had an unwanted sexual experience.
Based on the answers to these questions, they will either see the student immediately or have them make an appointment.
If students simply want to talk to someone, the PCC does provide other outreach programs. They hold “Let’s Talk” every Wednesday in SUB 201 from 12-2 p.m. This is a very popular program where students stop by and vent or de-stress about anything without having to fill out paperwork. There are no strings attached.
Other ways the Psychological Counseling Center is involved with the student body is by working with residence life. Each counselor is assigned to three resident halls where they work with residence assistants, resident directors and residents when needed. They also work alongside the Teaching and Learning Center to train professors in noticing behavioral changes in students and learning how to approach them.
“We call it QPR: question, persuade, refer,” Lloyd said.
The Psychological Counseling Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For mental health emergencies that occur outside of the centers hours, students are urged to call the University Police Department, who will contact the PCC emergency contact.
For more information on the Psychological Counseling Center, located in the Health Center, visit www.newpaltz.edu/counseling, or call 845-257-2920.