The NC State Counseling Center is a resource available to all students that can help first-year students with the adjustments that come with their first year, as well as any students struggling with their mental health.
The Counseling Center offers a wide variety of services such as individual counseling, group counseling, 24-hour crisis response and mental health education. Drop-in spaces are programs students can choose to drop in and participate in, with topics ranging from racial trauma to quitting nicotine to maintaining happiness and wellness.
The Counseling Center is located in Student Health Services on Cates Avenue. Use of the center is included in tuition, so students can utilize the services for free.
Monica Osburn, the executive director of the Counseling Center, said she sees first-year students struggle the most with adjusting to college life and that the Counseling Center can help.
“Freshmen are going through so many changes that first semester, whether it’s living independently, being away from home, the different rigors of college compared to high school, making new friends, leaving old friends,” Osburn said. “There’s really a wide range of different types of adjustment, and with that adjusting, there can be symptoms of anxiety or symptoms of depression. It doesn’t mean that a person gets diagnosed with depression or anxiety, but when those symptoms are present, if folks don’t have the tools on how to deal with that or manage that, we’re the place that can help support them in that growth.”
According to Osburn, symptoms can reveal themselves in ways that are different than what is often expected of depression or anxiety. She encourages students to watch for increases or decreases in sleep or irritability and for changes in diet and socialization.
To get started at the Counseling Center, students can look at the Get Started page on the center’s website. Students begin by attending a triage appointment where they speak with a specialist about their needs and goals, and the triage clinician determines what resources will best help that specific student.
Jack Nolan, a fourth-year studying biology, has been using the counseling services since his freshman year, but it took him a few tries to find a therapist he connected with.
“I’ve had really good experiences with the counseling staff, especially the second time through,” Nolan said. “That’s where I made the most progress. I would say don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time. Therapist shopping is a big thing. If you don’t really like the first one, that’s okay. You can try somebody new.”
Nolan said he encourages students to try using the Counseling Center if they are struggling with mental health, but also with academic-related problems.
“College is stressful,” Nolan said. “There are so many different services that they offer that don’t just range from mental health, but also educational help and learning how to better manage your time. It’s so much broader than just mental health services.”
Osburn said she encourages students to try the group work or drop-in sessions if they are hesitant to try the counseling services.
“I would say try one of our drop-in spaces or workshop spaces first,” Osburn said. “It’s like testing the waters before you jump in. Quite honestly, many of the things that folks typically come to the Counseling Center for could be solved in those workshops. You can learn the skills of how to manage your anxiety in the drop-in workshop space. It might not be enough, you might need more support, but it gets you ready to come to the Counseling Center.”
Osburn encourages students to try and help stop the stigma around mental health because almost everyone needs help at some point in their life.
“There is still a lot of stigma around counseling and the Counseling Center,” Osburn said. “It’s interesting when students actually start talking and let go of some of that stigma, they actually realize that lots of their friends have been to the Counseling Center or are currently using the services. It just kind of normalizes the process because we all need help. Who couldn’t use additional support or encouragement or skills to manage life? Life is hard.”
Students can find more information about getting started and workshops and programs on the Counseling Center’s website. If you or someone you know is having a mental health emergency, the Counseling Center can be reached 24 hours a day at 919-515-2423.