The Student Counseling Center at USD, located in the Cook House, has experienced yet another year of growth according to the center’s assistant director Wesley Bruce.
While statistics aren’t yet available, Bruce said that they have been able to see more students this year and are on track to hire another counselor. Additionally, they’ve also shifted the way that they fill appointments.
“We definitely have seen more people this year. One of the things that we’re pretty fortunate for is that Deb, the center director, had been given the budget to be able to hire a new counselor, which happened this past August,” Bruce said. The center also started filling in cancellations as they occur. “I also think that with where student services are at, that we’ll probably be able to have another full-time counselor next year as well. We’re growing at a pretty consistent pace.”
One of the reasons for the increase in demand could be due to people becoming more comfortable engaging in counseling. Rather than just utilizing medications, primary care physicians seem to also be encouraging counseling services.
Students now also tend to feel lonelier and more isolated than in the past.
“They’re in their dorms all the time by themselves with the dorm room door shut. That’s a different phenomenon than 20 years ago, where if you’d walked through college, the average dorm room was open because then you could see who’s going by [and] you tagged along on trips or events,” Bruce said.
Additionally, Bruce said that oftentimes forces surrounding students are designed to make them feel bad.
“You tend to be a good consumer when you feel bad,” Bruce said. “Sometimes just noticing all the forces that are designed to make you feel bad, to make you want to consume … being aware of those forces is very helpful.”
Fortunately, the center anticipates moving into a new space next year, allowing for more graduate-level students to be supervised in supporting students with more common issues in addition to having the space to offer more group sessions.
Students who remain in Vermillion and are enrolled in courses will still be able to utilize the counseling services offered. For students off campus or not enrolled in summer courses, Bruce said that research has shown three things to be incredibly helpful in improving mood: drinking less, exercising and being outside or with other people.
“The thing that they find that almost instantly makes people feel better is drinking less alcohol, getting about an hour of physical activity a day and then just being outside or with other people,” Bruce said. “Those three things in themselves will typically help people feel really good compared to being alone, being in a dark environment and then feeling achy because you’ve got a bunch of leftover booze or THC in your system.”