Papers and projects are piling up. Clouds and rain and daylight savings have stolen the sunlight. Holidays are around the corner, threatening family interactions that haven’t happened in months. Stress levels have reached their annual peak but this isn’t the only time of year students turn to the Counseling Center for help.
Across the nation, numbers of counseling sessions are on the rise.
“The national trend is significantly increased in almost every university,” said Director of the Counseling Center Robin Keillor. “Those that don’t show the increase are the ones that stand out.”
In the past three years, counseling at Pacific has seen a 40 percent increase in clients served.
“Seventy percent of those we serve are typically new patients, while 25-30 percent may have been in before,” said Keillor, “so the resources are not completely consumed by the same group of students.”
This is due in part to the campaign to reduce stigma surrounding mental health services, according to Keillor. Another theory is that increased stress levels and a decrease in teaching coping skills make people more vulnerable and in need of better strategies.
At HPC alone, counseling has increased almost 350 percent in those same three years. This dramatic growth is the direct result of the campus receiving its own full-time clinic in 2010. Before that, according to Keillor, services were only available 16 hours per week in non-specialized locations.
“I’m glad to see the huge growth in Hillsboro,” said Keillor. “The demand was obviously there.”
That demand could be a lot higher, however.
Many students opt not to come in for counseling because they don’t realize what they’re experiencing falls under the umbrella of mental health, according to Keillor. They spiral under the stress when they fail to find methods to relieve it.
National data indicates that those who access counseling have a 14 percent higher retention rate than students who do not, but professional sessions aren’t the only methods to return to the right track. Pacific offers a number of different services to cater to various needs.
The Oasis, located to the right of the mailroom and accessible via the PIC, offers a calm, quiet area for self-guided relaxation. Its features include a massage chair, light box and aromatherapy candles.
The new Tutoring and Learning Center in Scott Hall helps with study skills and life management.
Outback aids in getting involved with other students sharing interests. It can be a great way to build a community and confidence that helps fight stress, according to Keillor.
Learning Support Services offers aid with higher-level interference such as mood or learning disabilities.
The Campus Wellness Center looks specifically at dealing with unwanted sexual experiences and substance abuse.
There are other methods that might not be as obvious, either.
“A lot of people fail to think about natural support systems such as family, faith or community,” said Keillor. “They don’t want to burden those or change peoples’ perceptions of them. It’s a gift to others to show trust in them.”
Regardless of the type of stress, Keillor urged students to find a way to reduce it that works.