This year, the counseling center is expected to see about 1,100 students.
“We are up 400 percent in the number of students we see in a given year” Bill Burns, psychologist and director of the counseling center, said whose job is to keeps the counseling center running smoothly by making sure its services available to students.
The services they provide are included in tuition rates. The counseling center will only see students and crafts their services accordingly.
The services include individual counseling, group counseling, providing outreach and programming, therapy dogs, horticulture therapy aka destress in the dirt, psych services, alcohol counseling, on call psychiatrist that also comes three days a month and they teach two classes each semester.
FirstLink, the 24-hour hotline for the Fargo-Moorhead area, is the first response for crisis phone calls. After a screening process, students are then directed to an on call counselor. North Dakota State started the trend and it has expanded throughout the F-M area.
The therapy dogs, named Watson and Addie, are trained to sit with and comfort students. They’re trained pick up on students feelings and even have their own accreditation process.
Burns stated it’s common to see an increase in anxiety at this time in the year, with students worrying about a summer job or finding a career post graduation.
The counseling center generally stays busy from October through the end of the school year to the point where they’re full. In the event that a student would like to get in to see a counselor immediately, masters students get the opportunity to see students in need of counseling if the students are willing.
In addition to the eight professionals currently on staff, Burns wishes for more staff in the future as student attendance of the counseling center is only expected to rise and there have only been two new staff additions in the last 10 years.
Burns said the counseling center sees a lot of students lacking day-to-day coping skills. This could be connected to how current students grew up in a world where everybody got a participation award. If the first time a student deals with adversity is in college it can be hard.
Burns stated anxiety is the number one mental health issue the counseling center sees, depression is the second most common thing for the counseling center to see and trouble in personal and romantic relationships is number three.
According to Burns, much of this can be connected to high rates of social media use, stating that high rates of social media and high rates of depression go hand in hand.
Social media causes a lot of anxiety and depression. More social media time means more depression because social media shows the highlight reel of someone’s life compared to a person’s personal problems causing excessive stress to avid social media users and much of this is ongoing.
In terms of finals, Burns offered advice surrounding the idea of covering basic needs like relaxing before a finals and reducing or eliminating alcohol use.
Burns also brought up there’s a stigma surrounding mental health and asking for help will help eliminate that stigma, reminding students once again “we’re here for students, all they have to do is call.”