Thursday, April 18, 2024

Students care for mental health amidst pandemic, health center changes

By Nickie Hayes

Last semester, the SUNY Plattsburgh Student Health and Counseling Center made some adjustments. These changes included cutbacks on supplies and general equipment, and cuts made in different sections of the health center to save money.

The SHCC planned on saving $50,369 with the purposeful vacancy of the mid-level provider position. This position was filled by nurse practitioners who assisted SHCC, and because of this, 650 patients would now have fewer appointment times.

Not much has changed in the Mental Health Center at SHCC this semester, according to Kristina Moquin, a licensed mental health counselor at SUNY Plattsburgh’s SHCC, who provides individual and group therapy along with outreach programs. There was virtually only one change to the counseling side of the SHCC.

“We have a phyciatrist that is on campus part-time to see students, and prior to the budget changes, students could see her under their student health fee. But now, students have to pay a $60 fee every appointment they have with her.”

She said that because of the drastically increased pay, she feels that it is affecting some services to students.

Moquin fears that students are being deterred because they cannot see someone in person, but she said the amount of students coming for counseling is about the same as normal.

“There is going to be more issues coming down the pipe, but I just don’t know if it means more [students] will access us or not,” she said.

The SHCC have taken up the common practice of going virtual, doing zoom appointments and/or phone calls, depending on what the student prefers. Although, every day of the week there is one person in the SHCC for emergency purposes.

For increased safety, the SHCC has updated their online systems.

“Right now we updated our electronic record keeping system to a system that has a built-in HIPPA compliant zoom component, so it is much more secure and private then regular zoom,” Moquin said.

Trevor Eichler is a senior broadcast journalism major, with a minor in photography. He is also a Community Advocate in Wislon at SUNY Plattsburgh. He aims to set an example of how students should go about the changes made at SUNY Plattsburgh to keep the students, faculty, staff, and community safe.

“I’m making the best of it. I’m still having a great time. It’s my senior year I am not going to let COVID-19 get in the way of that,” Eichler said.

For him zoom classes are not a big deal, but that does not mean he does not have additional stress because of it.

“It is a big adjustment, especially me being a senior,” Eichler said.  “I’ve gone three years doing something one way, and the last year I have to just change everything up.”

Even with all of the changes students have to go through, Moquin believes that SUNY Plattsburgh students are doing well at adjusting, and choosing the right coping mechanisms in a time like this. She said that she has been inspired by the individuals she has talked to because of how resilient they are.

Eichler believes that his CA team and his other friends are making the right decisions on how to cope with the increased strain on their mental health. He said they are still connected through social media.

However, too much of a good thing is not always great either. He said that because he is now constantly looking at his phone, there is so much information about everything going on in the world popping up. This easily makes him overthink.

“It gets to me because then I think about what my future is going to be like,” he said.

Moquin said that in recent years, mental health has become more destigmatized. She feels that mental health is becoming a more acceptable topic of discussion.

“I am not speaking about this in a political sort of way… but, the fact that the Governor of the state when this pandemic began said any New Yorker that needs it can get free mental health telecounseling, that spoke volumes to me,” she said.

Moquin appreciates that mental health is being looked at on a larger level, and the importance of it is being recognized.


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