FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Health Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services is partnering with the IU Jacobs School of Music to expand its counseling services by staffing a counselor inside the Jacobs School part time.
“We are trying to be proactive to challenges that are happening with students,” said Lissa May, professor of music and director of undergraduate studies at Jacobs. “Having a counselor here will make it easier for students to seek help early on.”
The Counselor in Academic Residence Program will begin this fall. Brad Stepp, a clinical psychologist at the IU Health Center, will be stationed at Jacobs 20 hours a week. Students will still make appointments through the Health Center, but Stepp also will have drop-in hours and will spend time conducting outreach, such as educational seminars and workshops for students. The program is being piloted at Jacobs and, if successful, could be expanded to other schools on the IU Bloomington campus.
The idea is for students to feel comfortable seeking help with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression, said Pete Grogg, executive director of the IU Health Center, and to seek help before they reach a breaking point.
“What the Counselor in Academic Residence Program allows us to do is to begin addressing mental health from a different point,” Grogg said. “The counselors will work directly with faculty and academic advisors to begin understanding the trigger points/events (and the many other factors) that students confront that impact their ability to be successful at IU. The better we understand this, then the better we can address the problem to keep students on the right path.”
During the 2014-15 academic year, 4,098 students used CAPS. The most prevalent diagnosis was generalized anxiety disorder, followed by interpersonal problems, anxiety state, depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
College can be a difficult time for some students, Stepp said, whether it’s freshmen adjusting to being on their own for the first time, seniors preparing to enter the workforce or the everyday struggles of juggling courses with work, family and friends.
“There’s always going to be a level of stress with students depending on where they are in life,” Stepp said. “Any type of life transition is going to come with some stress. Early intervention can make a huge difference and can help students identify what their stressors are and how to best deal with them.”
In addition to reaching students sooner, May said the Counselor in Academic Residence Program also aims to eliminate some of the stigma surrounding mental health by providing an alternative location for students who may feel intimated or scared initially seeking help at a medical facility.
“Once a student hits the wall, they’ll say ‘I didn’t see it coming, I thought I could handle it, I thought it would go away,’” May said. “Once they realize they are in real trouble, it can be too late. We hope this program will make it easier for them to just drop by Brad’s office and see what he has to say.”