By JENNA GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:
National studies show stress, depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic levels in college students, but Amarillo College is helping combat the problem with a new campus counseling center that opened its doors this month.
The AC Counseling Center (ACCC) is a free service for all enrolled students. Located on the second floor of the Student Services Center, the Counseling Center will offer individual, family, couple and group counseling.
Psychology professor Dr. Alan Kee came up with the idea for the center. He will run it with the help of two interns who are pursuing their master’s degrees.
Kee said he has seen a tremendous need for free student counseling services at AC. “Mental health issues are learning issues. A depressed brain cannot learn; however, with proper intervention a depressed student can recover and complete their degree.”
Kee stressed that addressing mental health issues will help students stay in college. “The counseling center provides a safe environment for students to explore issues of concern, resolve psychological distress and maximize their potential.” AC advisers said they also see a need for the new service.
“Students experience tremendous stress – both academic and personal,” said senior academic adviser Margie Vitale. “It is wonderful that we now have the Counseling Center where students can get help coping with life difficulties.”
Interns Lindsey Eggleston and Kristen Barrick said they are looking forward to this opportunity to help students.
“Many AC students are attempting to balance multiple roles of parent, employee, boss and caretaker, while trying to keep up with classes,” Eggleston said. “The Center is a resource to help students take care of themselves so that they can better meet the challenges of their daily roles.”
“We won’t be able to solve everyone’s problems, but we can help students work through their issues and help them find their own solutions or see any of their troubles from a new perspective,” said Barrick.
Some students may not know what to expect from counseling. “Counseling sessions are shaped around each person individually and they are a collaborative effort between the counselor and client,” Eggleston said. “The counselor is there to help identify your goals and find solutions to problems that are causing anxiety in your life.”
Some reasons for students to seek counseling include test anxiety, time management, academic adjustment, strategies for handling anxiety, depression, relationship trouble or substance abuse.
“We want students to feel hopeful and encouraged about their futures,” Barrick said. “Students can feel safe sharing. There will be no judgment for any reason that a student needs to talk with a counselor,” Barrick said.
To get in contact with the ACCC, contact Promise Garrison at 806-371-5191 and leave a name and number. More information is available at http://www.actx.edu/ce/counselingcenter.
“No student should ever feel alone with stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse or a crisis,” said Barrick. “That is what we are here for.”