Education and mental health: students reveal coping methods

Counseling Hallway
The UW-Fox Counseling Services office can be found in room 1309. · photo by Vinnie Oestreich

Mental health problems can be problematic whether they be the often-seen anxiety, stress and depression or something as specific as home-life issues. Fortunately, there are many avenues for support that students can pursue on and off campus.

UW-Fox’s Counseling Services, readily available to students, is one such avenue.

Hannah Keesler has been working at UW-Fox Counseling Services for three years. Originally a counselor at UW-Stout, she has a history of aiding students with a wide range of mental health issues.

“I’ve worked with college students for a while,” Keesler said.

Keesler addressed common stressors students have.

“Relationships are probably [among the most] frequent stressors for college students,” Keesler said.

Students backed this claim, reporting difficulties balancing commitment to romantic and familial relationships with coursework.

“Our methods of treatment depend entirely on the student,” Keesler said. “Time management and building relationships with professors are important methods.”

She believes that students are often unwilling to or uncertain how to go about reaching out to counseling services. Due to social concerns, students often agree.

“[There’s] a stigma about going to see a counselor, [an] implication that there’s something wrong, that you’re crazy or dangerous. I think counselors should do more to make it clear that seeing them is normal and healthy,” Sophomore Chloe Rogers, of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, said.

Keesler stressed that counseling services are provided free of charge to all students at UW-Fox.

“We send counselors into classrooms to do class presentations and we [include] the service at orientation. It’s important to get as much face-to-face time with students as possible.”

Kevin La Combe, UW-Fox sophomore, brought up a more subtle cause of stress: the commute to and from campus.

“It’s a 45-minute drive each way,” La Combe said, “which means that some days I’m getting up at 7 a.m. and not getting home until after 9 p.m..”

It would seem that, regardless of the source, stress affects student performance.

Keesler reported aiding students in academic performance, time management and study habits.

Counseling, however, while effective on the whole, is not the instant solution to stress and emotional problems that it is often purported to be.

“Counseling didn’t really help me,” Rogers said. “Maybe it did, a bit, but I needed someone to talk to more than once a week.”

Instead, counseling is one of many sources of aid that students use for relief.

“Catharsis through writing was one of the tools I used. Poetry, short stories, all that sort of stuff. If it got really bad, I’d usually play a video game like SMITE or Dark Souls, where I could apply myself and focus on using applications of mechanical skill to drown out what was going on in my life,” Rogers said.

La Combe reported employing music as a tool for relaxation.

“I enjoy [music] like Avenged Sevenfold and Adelitas Way,” La Combe said. “It’s nice sometimes to come home and just jam.”

Others, of course, turn to solutions like drugs and alcohol.

“I drank on the weekends to forget the stress,” Gabbie Knaus, a senior at Hancock, Michigan’s Finlandia University, said, “particularly when my family would put a lot of pressure on me.”

Still, others make use of their hobbies and talents to relieve the tension.

“I love to draw. Everything else fades into the background,” Popian said.

“For me,” Andrea Marchant, a former student of UW-Fox, said, “activities like CRU were helpful. There were always friendly, helpful people around and sometimes it was nice to just go on a trip like TCX (Twin Cities Experience) and get away from the schoolwork.”

“College is stressful,” Jon Marchant, a Northeast Wisconsin Technical College junior, said. “There’s no getting around that. It’s just a matter of how you deal with it.”

Counseling services at UW-Fox can be obtained by calling 920-832-2697, and their hours can be found on campus’ counseling Web page.