Thursday, February 22, 2024

End of semester looms over mental health

By Hayden Sadler

Students are seeking out more mental health counseling than in previous years. With Final exams and the end of the semester quickly approaching comes the stress and anxiety inflicted upon students by impending final grades. Both the Accessibility Resource Office and the Student Health and Counseling Center have seen an influx of students who require assistance as campus becomes an increasingly stressful environment. 

Susan Sand, assistant director for medical services, on campus mentioned a huge increase in counseling appointments and services being needed by students. 

“These appointments were full earlier and filled up faster than they ever have in previous semesters. We have also seen an increase in crisis appointments,” Sand wrote in an email. “There have already been more crisis appointments this semester than last semester.” 

Sand cited the nationwide mental health crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to.

Crisis appointments are appointments that take place the same day the appointment is made. Sand mentioned that as of now, the counseling center is unable to take any more appointments. Next semester, however, the Student Health and Counseling Center anticipates having additional appointment slots, Sand clarified. 

Campus mental health support doesn’t stop at Student Health and Counseling Center’s services, however. The ARO also has many resources for students who need support or accommodations to ensure mental and academic success. 

Gabrielle Dion, the new access coordinator for the ARO, is responsible for guiding students through the process of registering for accommodations. This process typically begins with an initial intake meeting to determine the type of accommodations a student may need. Dion also explained that it is her job to ensure that accommodation is being granted to students across campus. 

“In addition, I also serve as an academic coach for interested ARO students,” Dion wrote in an email.

 Dion cited an increasing number of students who come to the ARO every semester. Nearly 100 additional students come to the ARO for help each semester, and the ARO is currently assisting more than 1,000 students. 

Laura Cronk, testing services coordinator at the ARO, is responsible for ensuring students who require testing accommodations receive them. This could also mean helping students that require a scribe or a reader for their tests. 

“I work with over 350 faculty/staff on campus,” Cronk wrote in an email.

Cronk is responsible not only for communicating with the large number of students who need accommodations, but also with the faculty who help her provide such accommodations. 

The ARO functions in a way in which each faculty member specialized in a certain area that allows all students to receive communication.

“I may be biased,” Cronk wrote in an email. “But I work with the best team! We each have our areas of expertise, but when there are concerns for students, we work together to resolve situations.”

Dion also mentioned that the wellness zones, sensory-friendly areas where students can relax and get work done, have seen a large increase in student usage lately. 

Kira Accardi is a junior with a major in psychology and a minor in art therapy. Accardi said through messages how during the last year she was lucky to be the ARO student worker. Two zones, the Zen Den and the Zen Zone, are places where the ARO provides a sensory-friendly environment for students to destress. 

Accardi said that these locations help her to recenter her focus. 

“Some days when I feel like my head is in a million places I will take some time to visit Zen Den and or the Zen Zone,” Accardi said.  

The ARO is grappling with an influx of students as the semester draws to a close amid a nationwide mental-health crisis. By providing a place for students to have their needs met, the ARO ensures academic success during the busy times of the year.

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