Free Counseling on Campus

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Free Counseling on Campus

By: Jennifer Brandon

College students are faced with stress in the form anxiety, depression, drug/alcohol addictions and eating disorders. Some come to school with pre-existing mental illness or have suicidal ideations, etc. No matter the case, the number of college students needing professional guidance around the country for mental illness related problems are rising. Student services might be able to help with students who are feeling overwhelmed and need help coping with the demands of life.

Many colleges are now offering behavioral health services on campus such as counseling. Pensacola State College has partnered with Adult & Child Mental Health Care, LLC (ACMHC) to provide students with the counseling some desperately need.

The annual report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University for 2015 is based on data which focuses on the over 100,000 college students receiving mental health treatment on campuses in the Unites States. The report also reveals complaints by students of extremely long wait times to get appointments.

As of now, the counseling offered on PSC’s campus is underutilized. Only 20 PSC students are signed up for these services, so getting an appointment is fairly easy.

This partnership began in August 2016 when licensed clinical social workers and mental health counselors began seeing PSC students for counseling. Most students being treated however, were referred to the ACMHC counselors by the campus’s behavioral intervention team during September’s Suicide Prevention month.

In addition, a person can refer themselves by calling the appointment line at (850) 466-3200. Counselors are available to students most days of the week, but are seen by appointment only.

Although this is a new program offered by PSC, licensed clinical social worker Ginger E. Woods says that it is an important one. Woods has been with ACMHC for a little over a year and has been working with students since the beginning of the fall semester. “Counseling is important for anybody. I think counselors should go to counselors. It is important for us to be able to talk to someone that is not biased,” said Woods.

Even though the program is new and under-utilized, it is needed. That need was recognized by congress. In 2004, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act was passed, which created three programs, Campus Suicide Prevention, State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and the Technical Assistance Center; these programs provide the funding for the prevention, education and outreach of mental health needs that exist on campus.

Counseling services at PSC are free of charge for uninsured students or those that receive Medicaid or Medicare. Students with private insurance can still be seen by ACMHC counselors, but will have to go to their main office on Cervantes for the appointment. The counseling session for all other students takes place in a small office tucked away in the library.

In the session, the client will learn coping strategies and stress management techniques to better deal with tough situations. Woods described her treatment style as “person-centered” and hopes her clients will bring whatever they want to discuss to their session. Her approach is solution focused and sometimes simply establishing a solution to a problem proves to help with most degrees of stress, depression and anxiety.

For more information, call the appointment line at (850) 466-3200 or visit the ACMHC website at