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SAD Season Is Coming, but Counseling Services Are Here to Help

By Bethany Maciejewski  With the sun setting just after 4 p.m., it is the time of year when students are most influenced by seasonal affective disorder. For those who are affected by seasonal depression, Western offers services to aid students who are struggling.  The university offers a multitude of counseling services for students, including specialization in group therapies for alcohol and drug abuse. The counseling center specifically offers group therapy options, crisis support services and one-on-one transitory counseling that can lead to off-campus referrals. Any WWU student who is currently enrolled for at least six credits and has paid the health fee is eligible for services,” said Anne Marie Theiler, interim director and assistant director of clinical operations.  All eligible students have the opportunity to access resources related to body image, eating disorders, grief, LGBTQIA+ support and more. Western also offers sobriety support as well as alcohol and cannabis classes that can be taken to assess substance impact on students’ lives.  “We are an educational resource to assist students in gaining an understanding about the substance they are concerned about, look at options for doing things differently, and make their own informed decisions about drinking or using later, if they choose to” said Jacelyn Barham, assistant risk reduction specialist in alcohol and drug counseling. The counseling resources for students struggling with sobriety are aimed to be used as a source of education and support. Barham takes pride in the support she is able to provide without pressure saying that she enjoys “having unique, heartfelt conversations about experiences with substances, especially when students walk away saying that they gained something meaningful from the discussion because it didn’t ‘feel punitive.’” Last year, the university’s counseling center saw 1,922 students, Theiler said. Over 16,000 students were enrolled as of fall 2018, meaning close to 12% of the student population accessed these resources last year.  “I feel like it’s important for new students to know especially when you're just first going into it college can kinda be an adjustment period,” said third-year Katie Schreiber. “Sometimes you need some extra help.”  Outreach activities such as presentations and dissemination of information have reached over 8,000 students to put resources within the grasp of incoming students.  Services are catered toward common concerns like relationship and interpersonal problems, grief and loss, eating or body image issues, stress due to experiences with marginalization or microaggressions, academic struggles, substance use, identity issues, adjusting to university life, family issues, coping with the effects of trauma, managing emotions and self-esteem, Theiler said.  While 85% of students visiting the counseling center last year were present for one to five individual appointments, if a student is looking for long-term therapy, referrals to off-campus resources are available. The counseling center seeks to provide gateways to ease students into whatever help they are pursuing.  Crisis lines and emergency services are available under the crisis services tab on the counseling center’s website.

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