My name is Logan Elliott, and I am a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education. I am writing this blog to talk about my experience utilizing the Missouri State University Counseling Center, and provide some insights into what your students can get out of the experience, as well. I first started using the Counseling Center during my first semester of graduate school. I wasn’t facing anything immensely troubling however, there were certainly some transitional issues I was facing such as homesickness, loneliness, as well as academic struggles as this was my first experience in a graduate-level program. I found that it was helpful, but as my schedule filled up through my first and second semester, my priorities got shifted around and ultimately, I stopped utilizing the Counseling Center altogether.
At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal to stop going. After all, I had made it through some of those transitional issues, and didn’t need the resource anymore, right? Wrong! It wasn’t until recently at the start of my last semester that I decided to start utilizing this valuable campus resource again. There were a couple of changes that the Counseling Center made that makes using this resource even easier for students who may be struggling with their mental health or who just need a professional to debrief with. The Counseling Center now allows students to make appointments through both phone and email. I think one of the reasons why this resource is oftentimes underutilized comes with the stigma of mental health counseling. The stigma: that those of us who use mental health services have “problems” or are “crazy”; I am here to tell you, from personal experience, that those are 100% myths and are untrue assumptions that are oftentimes made. Mental health counseling is just as important as seeking health guidance from a doctor in terms of your physical health, and can ensure that your students are as successful as possible during their college experience.
There are a multitude of reasons as to why a student may seek to use the Counseling Center, which includes but is not limited to things such as: lack of motivation/difficulty concentrating, procrastination, feeling anxious or stressed, lack of confidence/low self-esteem, sleep disturbance, feeling lonely/isolated, family problems, career/life choices, or even just dealing with transitioning into a new school, community, or group of peers. As you can see, these are common problems faced by all members of our community and even just getting some of the common struggles that students face off of their chests will make an immense difference.
Students who are engaging in a post-secondary education oftentimes face a shift in the support system that they have had for all or most of their lives. They are oftentimes away from support systems such as their family, friends, past mentors, and thus, have a need for support when they are at school. The Counseling Center is a way to gain an additional professional in your student’s corner that will care for and challenge them as they work to be successful in their academic efforts.
For students interested, the first counseling session, called an intake, consists of exploring the reasons why a student is seeking counseling, relevant personal history, and the development of the student’s goals for counseling. To schedule an intake, students may call the Counseling Center at 417-836-5116. I have had a great experience with mental health counseling at Missouri State, and believe that any student who engages with the Counseling Center will find that it has helped them to be successful in some form or fashion. Let’s help beat the stigma by being bold and unafraid to seek help when needed.
Have a great rest of your semester, Bears!
Logan Elliott, Graduate Assistant | Orientation & Transition Programs | Student Affairs Graduate Association | President