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You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
Mental health picture

The struggle continues

Students should receive support

Asking for help is never easy.

Neither is living with the mental, emotional and often physical consequences of an untreated struggle with mental health. 

Yet while many students rely heavily on their community networks, many more neglect to turn to Taylor University’s Counseling Center, which offers a variety of free resources and support opportunities. 

“We're going to try to do whatever we can do to get all students access to counseling services if needed,” Craig Cochran, director of the Counseling Center, said. “Everybody could benefit from counseling … whether it be the prevention piece, or whether it be just wanting to seek another person to kind of be a sounding board or to provide some wise counsel.”

Jenny Schamber, assistant director of the Counseling Center and adjunct professor of kinesiology, explained that the idea of free access and connection is why the Center resides on the second floor of the LaRita Boren Campus Center.

The Counseling Center has walked alongside over 250 students this year, per a recent board meeting the Counseling Center held at the end of February.

In addition to those 250 individual student meetings, the Counseling Center has seen 300 more students through group therapy sessions, workshops and events, each revolving around a particular theme or challenge students may face. 

Yet with 2,000 students on campus, nearly two-thirds are still unreached. Some of these students, of course, may not need mental health services. However, Cochran and Schamber both acknowledge a desire to serve more students than they’re currently seeing. 

“I think sometimes there’s still a little bit of apprehension for our services,” Cochran said. “Just because you call or send an email that you would like counseling services, that doesn’t mean you're signing a contract for the whole year. It just means maybe you need to come in a few times and talk and kind of clear things up in your mind.”

Cochran noted part of the hesitancy he sees is with not only commitment but hesitancy to be vulnerable. 

That’s why the Counseling Center doesn’t require students to share their full life story or testimony. It also doesn’t require students to go through a crisis before walking through its door. 

Instead, the center seeks to build trust, as counseling intern Jon Cavanagh stated. 

“It’s not all, ‘let’s all do a bunch of trust falls,’ you know?” he said. “Some of it is just going through, ‘Hey, what is your experience with this? What have you learned from this? Let's talk about some of the resources there.’”

It’s trust that the Counseling Center is willing to earn from students. 

Cohran has made himself available simply by being part of the Taylor community, often spotted in a golf cart-turned-ice cream truck at the end of each academic year.

But that’s not the only way the Center is investing in student relationships. Partnering with student mental health organization PAX and visiting residence halls and student groups on campus, students don’t need to visit the Counseling Center to receive its services, and they can even join group therapy sessions to talk through issues with guidance alongside peers.

“Groups can be intimidating, you know, because you're going in with a group of people to talk about whatever, like our anxiety and stress management group,” Schamber said. “But I think that they also can be really beneficial to hear and see other people talk about the same things that you know another individual experiences.”

That shared experience is what makes asking for help so important.

Walking through college — through life — isn’t easy. Walking through mental illness is even harder. But we weren’t made to walk alone. The Counseling Center’s free resources are open to everyone, with opportunities across campus.

You only have to ask for help.