Let’s admit it, college is stressful. With stacks of homework, projects due and finals around the corner it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. According to a 2014 study by the American Psychological Association, “mental health problems (notably stress, anxiety, and depression) can impair the quality and quantity of learning.”
“If you don’t know how to take control of it [stress], it can start eating you from the inside,” said Ellicia Money, a licensed professional counselor at Richland.
The Office of Student Life partnered with Counseling Services to bring “Let’s Quack About It,” a drop-in workshop held April 25, where students learned to identify stressors and how to overcome them.
The workshop taught students how to cope with stress using breathing exercises and meditation which can be done during stressful situations like a final exam. Money said attendees learned about “mindfulness, the state of being aware in the present tense instead of thinking of all the finals ahead.” Counseling Services hopes that by introducing the workshops students will become more open to seeing a counselor.
“It’s an introduction to counseling,” said Money. For some students, though like Richland Collegiate High School (RCHS) juniors Jose Cisneros and Christina Yanter, counseling is not an option they consider. RCHS is Richland College’s charter high school juniors and seniors.
“It’s hard to relate to a counselor if they don’t know what you’ve been through,” said Yanter. She expressed that she was stressed out about upcoming final exams.
“You’re so stressed out you don’t even feel it anymore,” added Cisneros who recalled being in a class last semester where he said a student had a test-induced panic attack.
Both Yanter and Cisneros mentioned they rely on their friends first in times of stress. “They are going through the same stuff we are going through,” said Cisneros. That is completely normal according to J.J. Larson, Richland’s associate director of student services for health and well-being. “It makes sense that students would go to their friends as their first line of support,” said Larson. “That’s a national trend among the age group of college students.”
Larson said, while a friend might help, a counselor offers advice without being as straightforward. “We are going to have a conversation that might ask you to identify characteristics or features of why that’s the choice you’re making,” said Larson.
Some students, however, still believe that problems like stressing over a test are not worthy of counseling. “When we look at it from a professional perspective we are looking at what is that student identifying,” assured Larson. “It’s not about me saying these things are counseling-worthy or not.”
Larson explained how counselors are trained to not judge students on their situation. They base their assessment on the individual student and not by comparison. “That’s the beauty of counseling,” said Larson.
“Let’s Quack About It” was made for the students who might not want to receive counsel but would still like stress management advice. “Because we know that not every student wants to access a therapeutic relationship but the skills and information can certainly be helpful,” said Larson.