Story by Brian McDonald
Photos Courtesy of Loren Probish | The Breeze
College can be an exciting time. For some, this may be the rst opportunity to live independently. However, that autonomy can introduce new levels of stress. At JMU, the Counseling Center provides resources to students for coping with mental illnesses.
The Counseling Center offers free, con dential services to all JMU students. Consultations, individual therapy, group therapy and 24/7 emergency services are included. Staffed counselors. like Dr. Magali Laitem, a clinical psychologist and outreach coordinator, relish in the opportunity to help students have the best college experience possible. “It can be incredibly important and bene cial for everyone to know about all the resources that are available to them on campus,” Laitem says. “If students, staff, faculty and family are aware of the resources, it creates a community of support and can lessen feelings of isolation, hopelessness and helplessness.”
Laitem and others are also working hard to dispel the negative perception of counseling. “We truly believe that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength,” Laitem says. “Counseling is another resource to help individuals learn more about themselves, learn new skills on how to manage different situations and/or to get support.” Dr. Erika Collazo, a general wellness and health research methods professor, teaches her students the importance of seeking help.
“It is important to pay attention to our feelings and understand if they are getting out of our control,” Collazo says. “If we don’t deal with that right away, then we can be dealing with the consequences later.”
Every student is different, and while counseling may be a viable option for some, Collazo believes an important way to promote mental health resides in a personal emotional outlet. “If you can talk to a counselor, that’s great,” Collazo says. “However, most counselors themselves would recommend you nd some positive outlet for your stress, like writing, drawing, exercise or anything that will allow your mind to relax itself.”
While some counselors believe in an individual emotional outlet, Laitem and other counselors want students to know they’re there for you. “You are not alone and there are several different options on how to get support,” Laitem says. “The key is that it makes you feel good.”
The Counseling Center is located in the Student Success Center (3100).
Website: https://www.jmu.edu/ counselingctr/index.shtml