Health Center: Student Frequently Asked Questions
Counselors and Nurse Practitioners are available during business hours 8:30am-4:30pm. You can call to schedule an appointment to talk about yourself or to talk about your concerns about a friend. Residence Life staff may also be able to help you if the problem involves their living situation, peers, or conduct problems. If your or someone else is in need of immediate emergency assistance, appropriate law enforcement or hospital emergency personal should be contacted.
In order to disclose any information about your counseling, you must provide written consent that you are waving their right to confidentiality and that you authorize communication between a third party and your counselor.
It would be illegal and unethical for any counselor to disclose any type of information regarding your treatment without your consent. In very limited cases (e.g. if your life is at risk) your confidentiality may be broken. However, these cases are very rare and you will be informed fully of those circumstances under which they might occur.
In cases when a student is in imminent risk of harming themselves or others the counseling center will take steps to attempt to protect the student and others by communicating with the appropriate law enforcement and/or hospital emergency staff. In these rare cases, a written consent waving the right to confidentiality is not required.
Students present with a range of issues related to normal development. Some of these issues involve dating or relationship concerns, difficulties adjusting to college, career confusion, grief and loss, sexual identity concerns, religious or faith based concerns, or family difficulties.
Other students present with more specific mental health problems which involve eating disorders, sleep difficulties, depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse.
It is not uncommon for students to be a little unsure about the reasons for their unhappiness. In these cases counselors work with students to help them identify the underlying problem that are causing their distress and assist them in resolving their distressing symptoms (sleep problems, depression, anxiety).
While it is very painful and worrisome to see someone you care about refuse help, counseling is always a personal choice. If someone you care about is refusing help, we encourage you to consult with a counselor at the Health Center to see if there is a way that you could encourage that person to get the help that they need.
Some students are very worried that they will look weak if they seek counseling. In these cases, it is important to remind the person you care about that it actually takes a lot of courage and strength to face problems and to ask for support. As a friend, you may be able to talk with them about a time that you sought help for a problem that you could not resolve on your own and how talking to others helped you.
Other students worry that the information that they share in counseling will be shared with other students, professors, or coaches. It is essential that students understand that the Health Center respects students’ legal and ethical right to confidentiality. Any information shared by a student is kept confidential and can not be shared with parents, faculty, coaches, or friends, without written permission from the student or in situations where there is clear or imminent danger to self or others.
In some cases students worry that coming to the Health Center for counseling requires a commitment to a certain number of sessions. These students may be relieved to find out that they can choose to speak to a mental health professional on a one-time basis. Students do not need to make a commitment to ongoing therapy.
Students are asked to call the Health Center to schedule first time appointments. Appointments can be scheduled with nurse practitioners for medical concerns, a pastoral counselor for spiritual or religious concerns or questions, a mental health professional for emotional issues, and/or a learning assistance counselor for support with academic and learning concerns. The Health Center is available to respond to psychological emergencies between the 8:30am and 4:30pm everyday.
Once students schedule their appointments, they are sent a set of Health Center forms to complete and bring into their appointment. The Health Center professional will evaluate the nature and severity of their concerns and together with the student, will develop a course of action.
It is not uncommon for students who are feeling overwhelmed, to turn to their friends for help and advice. As a friend, you may be able to offer reassurance but may feel like your friend needs further assistance. At these points, it may be helpful to consult with a counselor at the health center about the problem.
When you have conversations with your friend ask them to talk to you about what life is like for them at the University and listen without giving advice or solutions. If you observe that your friend has been missing classes, is socially withdrawn, is crying more frequently, has lost motivation, is having difficulty with anger management or substance use, or doesn’t seem to be happy anymore, it is a good idea to talk with he/she about your concerns and refer them to the University Health Center for counseling.
Eating Disorders are a very serious mental health problem that impact all areas of a student’s life (academic, social, spiritual, family) and can lead to severe physical and psychological impairments. It is recommended that you call the Health Center and consult with a counselor if you have concerns that a friend might have an Eating Disorder. A counselor can talk to you about Eating Disorder warning signs and help you decide whether your friend’s symptoms warrant an Eating Disorder evaluation. Depending on the nature of a student’s eating disorder symptoms, the counselor may recommend that they receive an evaluation at the Health Center or at an Eating Disorder Treatment Center in the community.
Young adulthood is a period in time where many student’s experiment with new behaviors and activities. Some students begin to experiment with alcohol and/or other drugs for the first time during college, while other students bring substance dependence and abuse issues with them to college. Some signs that a student’s drinking or drug use is a problem may include: health problems, a drop in academic functioning, problems with work (e.g., absences and poor performance), an impairment in social functioning (e.g., fights, loss of friends, social isolation), and legal/judicial problems on or off campus. If you notice that someone you care about is exhibiting these difficulties, this may be a sign that they have shifted from normal developmental experimentation with alcohol or drugs to alcohol or drug abuse or dependency. If you have questions about how to approach a friend to talk about your concerns, call the UHC and ask to consult with a counselor.
For students with concerns about their drug and alcohol use, the Health Center offers assessment and consultation with a psychologist who can help them make decisions about whether or not they are in need of treatment. If it is determined that the student is in need of treatment, the psychologist can work with the student to help them decide what type of treatment would be most appropriate. Treatment may include meeting with a psychologist at the University Health Center for therapy, receiving therapy at a drug and alcohol treatment center, or entering a day treatment or residential treatment center for alcohol and drug use. The type of treatment recommended for a student would be based a very thorough assessment and an understanding of their individual needs.