Mental Health Services critical to students

With the prevalence of depression, suicide, and eating disorders on many college campuses across the United States, mental health services have become even more important. This is particularly true at elite schools like Williams, at which high stress can be a large factor in many students’ lives.

Although severe mental health issues do not seem to be a visible problem here at Williams, a significant number of students do report a need for psychological assistance at some point. Thanks to the Counseling Center, they can receive the help they need.

The Counseling Center is part of the Williams College Health Center located at 105 The Knolls behind Agard House and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides comprehensive extensive mental health and counseling services.

“Any issues a student would normally bring to a psychologist or psychiatrist, the Center can deal with,” said Ruth G. Harrison, director of Health Services. These counseling services are for all students currently enrolled in Williams College and include psychiatric evaluations, short-term individual or group therapy, crisis intervention, and medical evaluation, treatment and follow-up.

The center is staffed by a group of clinicians with a wide range of experiences and areas of expertise. A psychiatrist, Dr. John Minor, is on staff 22 hours a week. Three therapists, Margaret Wood, Judith Wynn and Karen Theiling, are also available for appointments. These clinicians provide individual sessions but group sessions can also be arranged. According to Harrison, though, the Center has attempted group sessions in the past but has not found them to be especially successful. Still, the Center is always willing to facilitate them at students’ requests.

The Center is especially skilled in dealing with college-related issues such as depression and eating disorders. The staff even includes a team that specializes in eating disorders.

Many times, availability of counselors and therapists is an issue on college campuses, especially during final exam period, when stress tends to increase exponentially. Students who are looking for help and ways to ward off stress and depression are encouraged to turn to the Counseling Center for support.

Harrison says there is very little waiting time to schedule an appointment with a counselor, but she does concede it gets quite busy during stressful times and the wait may be a little longer. She still asserts that a student “will always be able to see someone…. If there is an emergency, someone will always work the student in.” It is very crucial that no one is ignored or allowed to “slip through the cracks.” Personal attention and responsiveness are critical to a campus’s counseling center, and Williams focuses on both of these.

The Counseling Center’s regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but there is always someone on call. For more information about the Eating Disorders Team or any of the psychological counseling services, call Ruth G. Harrison, director of Health Services, at 597-3166 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students can call extension 2353 to ask questions or make appointments.

In addition, the Health Center provides walk-in hours each week. Students are invited to stop by during the following hours: Monday at 8:30 to 10 a.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. All mental health services and counseling provided by the Center are highly confidential and free of charge. Please don’t hesitate to make use of these services; they’re there for you.

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