SUNY Oswego’s counseling department is working tirelessly to figure out different ways to help students with their mental health this semester.
“One of the things I will be doing across the next year or so is really trying to put together a comprehensive team on campus to start working on what a campuswide strategic plan for mental health could be,” said Lynn Braun, the director of counseling services at SUNY Oswego.
According to Research.com, 45% of American college students claimed to undergo “more than average stress,” while 33% of students reported “average stress” and 12.7% saying they experience “tremendous stress.”
These trends have been noticed by staff at the counseling department at SUNY Oswego, and there are new programs that have been implemented this year in order to reach students who may suffer from any of these issues.
One of these new workshops is called Anxiety Toolbox, which is a group program that runs for three consecutive weeks and is designed for students dealing with anxiety and need help coping with it.
“That is something to help analyze your personal anxiety and then learn some skills to cope with anxiety when it occurs in the moment, but also understand maybe some of the thoughts that are getting in the way that are triggering anxiety to hopefully restructure them down the road,” said Cory Brosch, the group coordinator and senior counselor at SUNY Oswego.
Another trend counselors have noticed is that more and more students are experiencing a loss of connection and a loss of sense of belonging. These trends have been credited to the rise of these feelings in college students to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I do think social isolation and connectedness in the last three to four years has become a much more pervasive issue than it was before and I think we’re just seeing it in ways that I don’t think probably would have happened if COVID hadn’t happened. I think it’s always been there, but it’s been amplified in such a huge way,” said Braun.
According to a survey conducted by BestColleges.com, 95% of students at the college level have experienced negative mental health symptoms as a result of the pandemic. Almost half of those same students also believe that these symptoms affected their education.
The loss of connection students are feeling due to the effects of the pandemic, is just one of the reasons why Brosch believes students should look into group counseling rather than just individual counseling.
“I can relate to people great but having a peer say, ‘Yeah I get that,’ or a peer saying, ‘how about this?’ or ‘this is something that I try,’ or ‘this is what happened to me and I completely get what’s happening to you,’ that just means so much more and it creates that sense of connection that was lost during COVID,” she said.
College students deal with heavy course loads, social expectations, and much more which can bring on negative symptoms. In order to cope with these negative mental health symptoms, counselors at SUNY Oswego encourage students to make time for self-care and do things that they enjoy.
“I think the other piece is being intentional about doing things that are good for you,” said Braun.
The counselors at SUNY Oswego want students to know that they are constantly working to meet students’ needs throughout each semester.
“We are evaluating often what’s needed and what’s not,” said Brosch.
On its website, the SUNY Oswego counseling center lists how students can contact them. The center is located within the Mary Walker building and there are appointments available online. Their website also lists information about individual counseling as well as the different groups students can get involved with and sign up for.
It is clear that counselors at SUNY Oswego want to serve the students, and will do whatever they can in order to do so.
“I want to make sure people know that there’s a willingness here to have a conversation about who we are and what we do and what ways that we can be serving students better because that’s really the whole point–we work for students, they don’t work for us,” said Braun.