Mental Health Awareness Month: A Spotlight on the SHWC

Photo courtesy of Student Health and Wellness Center

May is considered Mental Health Awareness Month, and as it draws to a close, it provides a chance for self-reflection. As students begin to finals in the coming weeks it’s hard not to dream about the heat and fun of summer. Finals can be a stressful experience at the best of times, but during a pandemic anxiety and mental health can take a sharp turn to the dark end. Thankfully, there are many mental health resources available for both students and the surrounding community. The pandemic has been a grueling and isolating experience for many, and those who need help might not know how to get it. So, in acknowledgement of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some of the resources available to SOU students, along with some advice from the staff who help make this support network possible.

The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) is a crucial resource for students, as it provides care for both physical and mental issues. Currently, students need to call in order to schedule an appointment; however, the possibility of an online sign-up is being explored for next school year. Along with mental health counseling and medical care, the SHWC provides prescribed medication and pickup when necessary. The clinic is equipped to handle most things that a primary care or urgent care location can do, and accepts most forms of insurance. In addition, the center also has a small library containing books on various health-related subjects.

The mental health counseling program at the SHWC is rather robust. Students call in and have the option to set up a treatment plan that lasts between about 5 to 8 sessions or longer if necessary. These sessions lean towards short-term care, but can refer students to various locations in the area for longer-term counseling. In addition to these care options, the SHWC also has a nurse practitioner who specializes in trans-inclusive care, as well as a doctor who has experience with eating disorders. The Executive Director of the SHWC, Anna D’Amato, also provided some insight on the importance of seeking mental health care.

“If you have any stress or mental health issues, or if you just need to talk to someone, call us, call the dean’s office, email us, reach out. It’s okay to reach out, and say that you need to talk to someone, that you need help. We’ll be able to at least point you in the right direction, and help you get that support that you need,” said D’Amato. “When you have some mental health stress or issues, it’s okay. It’s normal. Mental health has such a bad stigma, and people are afraid to say ‘I need help’, or afraid to verbalize what’s going on.” No matter the number of appointments, the need for financial aid, or even the number of therapy sessions, the center will help make it work. Not only will they provide in-person sessions this fall, they will also have the option of virtual counseling to those who need it.

“We’re here to help everyone re-enter. It’s not just students, it’s staff, it’s the rest of the community. We’re all figuring out how to go back,” said D’Amato.

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