Navigating the ever-changing landscape and demands of college life can be a difficult and stressful time in a student’s life. Feelings of anxiety, questioning one’s self-worth, or lacking motivation, among other mental health crises, may arise. However, The Counseling Center is here to help year-round for students seeking assistance.

Prioritizing mental health is an essential aspect of lifestyle and well-being. It’s not something that can be fixed with one session of therapy. It’s something where you focus on your behaviors, choices, and habits.

“There is no threshold or criteria we have for students to use our services,” Health Educator Santiago Rocha says. “We encourage all students to try counseling.”

Any enrolled Southwestern student can make use of the free counseling services offered on campus. The Center provides short and long-term counseling, support groups, and now offers walk-in hours where no appointment is needed. Counselors are available to help work through any kind of concern in a supportive, confidential setting.

The University and the Counseling Center celebrate and value the diversity of the student population and stand with students who may identify with marginalized groups, including but not limited to LBGTQIA+, BIPOC, and students with disabilities. Students can request a counselor based on a specific identity. However, requesting a specific counselor may result in a longer wait time, depending on their client list.

“All our counselors are generalists. However, they do specialize in college life and what students go through,” says Rocha. “We have counselors with experience in substance abuse, trauma, grief, anxiety, ADHD, and neurodivergence, among other areas.”

The Center strives to provide a safe space for students, whether that’s through one-on-one counseling sessions or participation in one of the student support groups fostered by The Center’s Health Education Office. These groups assist students in building a community of peers where they can share and process experiences, celebrate their identities, and express concerns.

Along with weekly support group meetings, the Health Education Office provides educational resources, guest speaker opportunities, and activities. This multi-level approach promotes overall health in students at Southwestern.

In addition to a team of dedicated mental health professionals, the Center also provides access to external resources. If a student is facing a challenge outside the scope of what the Center provides, counselors will refer them to an appropriate group for assistance. Should a student have concerns about a friend on campus, the Center encourages them to talk to their friend and help them reach out to the counseling center. That could be making the initial call with them or walking them over.

“There seems to be a stigma around asking for help,” Rocha says. “So The Counseling Center is reaching out to different organizations and cohorts on campus to push the message that asking for help is not a weakness; it’s actually a strength.”