Access to counseling center leads to rise in students seeking help

Illustration by Rachel Schuldt

Illustration by Rachel Schuldt

Lindenwood’s counseling center has seen a 20 percent increase in students seeking help since moving to Evans Commons last fall, according to Director of Counseling Joe Cusumano.

Cusumano said he believes the main reason for the rise in students seeking help is access.

“Since we moved here, it’s been night and day,” he said. “You wouldn’t think that two blocks would make a difference, but it does.”
According to Cusumano, a new counselor, Jessica Morris, will assist with all of the new students seeking help. Anxiety and depression are the two most common issues counselors see, he said.

“We’re looking at seven or eight different areas of what’s going on with this person,” he said. “Then we’re asking this person, ‘Why are you here?’ and they’re telling you why they’re here. What you’re trying to do in one or two sessions is determine what the primary purpose of the person coming is.”

Some of the areas that are looked at are family history, genetics and the student’s grades in school, according to Cusumano. From there, Cusumano and Morris will make a decision as to how the office will be best suited to help.

When students are facing potential mental health issues, ranging from test anxiety to panic attacks, they are encouraged to make appointments with Cusumano.

He said that students should make an appointment once the issue begins to “interfere with their ability to focus on their main purpose of being here, which is to learn,” he said.

He said that even though every case is unique, students feeling effects that could be related to anxiety or depression lasting around three to six days should seek help from the counseling center.

Cusumano also advised that students and faculty can keep an eye out for potential mental health issues. He said that if anyone notices a “radical change in a person’s personality,” it could be a sign of a mental health issue.

Fellow students are encouraged to help the student by listening attentively and remaining calm, according to the university counseling center’s website.

The site also says that students who are trying to help should remain genuine and encourage professional help. Training programs can be taken online through the center’s website.

Cusumano also said that the counseling center is set up to allow the most privacy possible for those who come to get help.

Each room has curtains and blinds on the windows so that nobody can see in from the Evans Commons cafeteria, and frosted windows to keep people from looking in or out while working with the staff. In addition, Cusumano said that the layout of the office allows for privacy from the waiting room to the hallway.

“From the waiting room we have a flow through here that takes you straight to the hallway,” he said. “So you don’t have to go back through the waiting room or meet other people.”
Cusumano said that being partnered with the health center helps, because all of the students are gathered in the waiting room before moving back.

“You could be here because you have the sniffles, or because you’ve had a panic attack,” he said.

The counseling center is located on the third floor in Evans Commons. Students can set up appointments by calling 636-949-4525.