The calm in the storm

Counseling Center provides professional care

REFUGE: Counselors in the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center are treating students through video chats or phone calls this semester.
REFUGE: Counselors in the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center
are treating students through video chats or phone calls this semester.

 

The vast majority of students Karen Martindale-Orite sees on campus might be said to be having trouble “adulting.”

 

“The most common things I see are what I call developmental issues,” said Martindale-Orite, a licensed professional counselor who sees students at the Student Counseling Center on the third floor of the Pendergraft Health Sciences Center. 

 

“The vast majority are young people away from home for the first time, facing more adult responsibilities than they have before, experiencing some time constraints, and the work is harder, and the faculty expect more self-initiative,” she said.

 

Dr. Dave Stevens, dean of students, believes the counseling Center fulfills a vital task on campus.

 

“Today, across the country, we see serious mental health issues with students,” he said. “For some, just having someone to talk to who is confidential, professional does a lot to help them cope, to help them make it day to day.” 

 

UAFS contracts with Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center to provide staff for the center. Having the center on campus is a great convenience for students who might otherwise have transportation and time issues, Martindale-Orite said.

 

The student health fee allows students up to eight sessions per year, although Martindale-Orite said the university has allowed some extensions. If students need more care, they are easily referred to the Guidance Center, where there is a sliding fee scale for many. 

 

She noted that the 15-25 years age group has the highest incidence of thoughts about suicide, an age group encompassing most college students. If students are referred or come in on their own, she can assess them and take whatever the appropriate next step is. 

 

Nontraditional students also make use of the counseling center, Martindale-Orite said. “For them, it’s usually stress but stress times three,” she said. “They have school plus family plus work. It can be overwhelming.”

 

Both Martindale-Orite and Stevens talked about the importance of explaining mental health issues during student orientation. 

 

“We talk to students about self-care,” Martindale-Orite said. “But we also want them to pay attention to their friends.”