Counseling Services has once again opened its doors to students and in-person sessions after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Albion College resources online.
“Our office is open again after being closed for COVID protocols and it feels great,” Assistant Director for Mental Health and Counseling Shannon Ufkes said, via email.
Counseling Services has now been included under a new office, the Office of Integrated Wellness. The new office, which includes spiritual, physical health and athletic training, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Once students walk in and meet with the secretary, they are able to sign up for full access to Counseling Services.
“Our secretary Elisa is here to assist students in filling out paperwork and getting set up with AlbionCare, a medical and mental telehealth program,” said Ufkes, via email. “Once set up, they can access free, on-demand mental health support, medical appointments and scheduled counseling appointments from wherever they are.”
While Suicide Awareness week passed on campus, October is set to be handled differently with it being Mental Health Awareness Month. Ufkes has been working with students on campus to start a chapter of Active Minds, which is a non-profit organization committed to raising mental health awareness among college students, via peer-to-peer dialogue and interaction.
Active Minds will be hosting many events on campus throughout the month, such as painting the rock and spreading messages around campus promoting mental health and wellbeing.
Melissa Sommers, assistant director of the Office of Integrated Wellness, planned a Walktoberfest, encouraging walking and being outside. The shirts that were given out during the walk by the Office of Integrated Wellness have the validating phrase “It’s okay to not be okay” written on the back, which is a slogan promoted by Active Minds.
“I feel like all of our activities are really centered around what we can do for the community and how we can get that community engagement on campus,” said Margaret McCoy, Holland senior.
McCoy is one of the core members that established the chapter of Active Minds on campus.
“I have always been interested in mental health advocacy,” said McCoy. “I’m a psychology major, and a lot of us are really interested in learning how people work and help to change the stigma surrounding mental health.”
Ufkes shares this sentiment, as she feels it is not only members of active minds that are working to end the stigma of mental health on campus.
“We have seen tremendous interest and support in this initiative from our campus community of students,” said Ufkes. “My experience has been that Albion students are less concerned with stigma overall and more focused on managing their own mental health and supporting others.”