ABERDEEN, S.D. Taking care of yourself while pursuing a college degree is important, but some universities see full schedules when it comes to mental health counseling.
College counselors start seeing students before classes even begin. It's the time of year that can be stressful for first-year students or those away from home for the first time. Stress, anxiety and homesickness are all issues counselors see at the start of the year.
The type of issues that come up during counseling sessions vary for what's going on in the year. Holidays and final exams can be one of the busiest times for counselors. The end of the year for those graduating can be stressful for many.
"They're getting close to getting a career and they're kind of worried about what to do next and what comes after school," Northern State University Counselor Cory Anderson said.
Some counseling centers are able to bring on interns from graduate programs.
"They'll come in and they'll study with me for the first semester and then after the first 10 weeks, they'll be able to go ahead and start looking at taking on some clients of their own with supervision of course provided by me," Presentation College Director of Counseling and Student Health Services Rebecca Christiansen said.
The interns are a huge time help for counselors so they can focus on more severe cases. Issues like test anxiety or career exploration can be talked about with the interns while college counselors can work on cases involving big mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
Student-led groups that focus on mental health are found on plenty of campuses.
"It's very nice that we have students that are willing to step up and tackle those social issues," Northern State University Counseling Center Programs Manager Erin Olson said. "We got a suicide grant this year that we've really been utilizing of putting the prevention out there on campus and in the community."
Joining a group that's full of students can provide a huge support system for students struggling on their own. It can also lead into those needing help to book an appointment with on-campus counseling services.
Many of the counselors agreed that college students nowadays have more stresses in their lives than ever before. Students and expectations are changing while a lot of them are trying to learn how to become adults at the same time that they're trying to learn things in their classes. It can be overwhelming for anyone.
College counselors believe it's the perfect time for students to try out counseling since it's free. They might even learn some vital skills to help them out in the future. College counselors that are involved on campus, give presentations in classes and make themselves known find that it's easier for students to talk to them and are more willing to go in for counseling.