Wednesday, June 16, 2021

New breakfast club offers peer support for students

Students are provided a safe space to have coffee and conversation at the Breakfast Club, a support group organized by the Counseling Center in coordination with the Educational Opportunity Program, Student Support Services and Student Accessibility Services.

The Breakfast Club was created as an extra resource for students to have open discussions in a confidential setting.

Allsun Ozyesil, a mental health counselor at the Student Health and Counseling Center was at home eating breakfast and drinking her coffee when she got the idea for the Breakfast Club.

“I just thought you know what everybody has to eat breakfast,” Ozyesil said. “ I was just thinking you know, I wonder if there would be a way to have something where people could drop in and get some intermittent support between appointments. Or say someone isn’t even interested in seeing a counselor individually, but still need some peer support.”

Due to the large number of students that go to the counseling center for services and with only four full time councilors, students are only able to be seen once every two weeks. Those who need to be seen weekly are referred out to local agencies or private practices.

“Every other week isn’t the best for everybody and not everybody has insurance to go outside of here,” Ozyesil said. “And every student pays their student health fee, which includes this service, so I feel like every student is entitled to this service.”

with an understaffed counselling center, Plattsburgh needs more funding and  that is ultimately a systematic issue Ozyesil said.

“Until that happens I see [The Breakfast Club] as kind of a BAND-AID for something that’s kind of hemorrhaging a little bit,” Ozyesil said.

The inspiration for hosting a gathering around something as simple as hot water stemmed from Ozyesil’s experience as a  mental health first aid volunteer in North Dakota for No Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in 2016.

“A lot of my time was spent in dead winter in a teepee with only a stove with a pot of water on it inside,” Ozyesil said. “ People were always dropping in for support and everything from ‘Do you have any markers?’ to ‘Oh my gosh im in going through a domestic violence thing and I need help right now’ to somebody in full blown psychosis who needs help around their symptoms. So that model has stuck with me since 2016. If you can provide some hot water and tea, basics, people can drop in and get support as long as you’re holding a safe space.”

The counselor present to guide the group will rotate every so often, giving attendees the opportunity to meet all of the counselors. The group meets every Monday at 10 a.m. in the Kyla Relaford Room on the ground floor of Macomb Hall. Students only have to bring their own breakfast, coffee and tea is provided.

“Breakfast is something that everyone needs and self care is something everyone needs,” Ozyesil said. “ I think people are always willing to show up for something free. Coffee and tea at 10 in the morning isn’t a bad idea when you’re a student to get you going.”


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