Counseling center receiving little engagement as distress amongst students’ rise

Abby Stoudt, Contributing Writer

Bloomsburg, Pa.—Counselors are seeing an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression among Bloomsburg students. Despite these trends, the University’s counseling center is experiencing low attendance and engagement in their programs.

This phenomenon is not just particular to Bloomsburg. A recent study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research also reported significant increases in the number of college students experiencing feelings of increased stress and anxiety.
Even with more significant numbers of students experiencing mental health concerns, the Student Counseling Center sees low engagement in programs specifically aimed at offering support for anxiety and depression.

Whitney Robenolt, Psy.D, a counselor at the university counseling center, reported that

“In general, students are less socially engaged with one another because of all these [COVID-19] limitations. There are a lot of students living at home right now, so there has definitely been a lot more isolation.”

This isolation, she said, can bring about a lot of depression symptoms. Many recent anxieties have been attributed to much of the change happening in the past year from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Reilly Freund, a freshman secondary English education major, said,

“I don’t even know where the mental health services [are]. There are posters around campus for everything, but I haven’t seen a single one for mental health.”

Students simply are not aware of the Counseling Center or its programs. Some of the programs currently offered by the Counseling Center on campus include weekly groups for anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and graduate students and face-to-face or telehealth visits with a counselor.

Bloomsburg’s counseling services are not limited to students living on-campus or in town this semester. With virtual drop-in sessions and workshops, the Counseling Center is trying to eliminate a difference in students’ availability of services.

The Counseling Center also has been engaging with faculty and staff, according to Robenolt. They’re encouraging them to send students to the counseling center if they notice support is needed.

Robenolt stressed the importance of counseling. She said counseling could benefit everyone. Whether someone is processing something that happened recently or throughout their life, it can be a great resource to have.

“If you can’t take care of yourself, you’re going to struggle in other facets of your life.”

However, taking the step to reach out and start counseling is difficult. Robenolt said that another important facet of taking care of mental health includes finding a balance. Those of which include getting enough sleep, finding time for meals, and most importantly, realizing,

“No one’s going to be perfect all the time,” and

“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” she concluded.