Liberty will recognize Emotional Health Month with ‘counselor couches’
As part of an effort to decrease the stigma associated with mental health, Liberty University will recognize Emotional Health Month in October by raising awareness about the importance of emotional health.
Over the course of the month, Student Counseling Services will work to start conversations among students about emotional health. A way that awareness will be raised is through hosting a “counselor couch” on the first three Tuesdays of the month. From 9 a.m.-12 p.m. counselors will be in the first floor lobby of DeMoss Hall to briefly meet with students. Rachel Van Dyk, a counselor with Student Counseling Services, described this as an opportunity for students to discuss what emotional health means to them and to inquire of their likelihood of seeking counseling.
“I know stereotypically, a lot of times people think that when they go to counseling they sit on a couch, so we are going to live up to that stereotype,” Van Dyk said.
“We’ll have a couch so people can just feel free to stop by, sit on the couch and just talk to us for a couple of minutes about their views of counseling.”
Students will also have the opportunity to attend a presentation called “Finding Balance in the Midst of Stress” that will be held Oct. 6 from 5:30-6:15 p.m. in the Jerry Falwell Library Terrace Conference Room.
“Obviously, college is very stressful in … different ways, whether that is living away from home, roommate conflict, academic stress, financial pressure, relationships, extracurricular activities or athletics,” Van Dyk said. “There are a lot of different areas that can cause stress, so (students need to be) very intentional about self-care and about having time to work on (themselves) and to take care of (themselves) emotionally in the midst of the stress.”
All of the Emotional Health Month events will be hosted in part by Live Healthy Liberty. Last year, Live Healthy Liberty was launched with the goal of encouraging the physical wellness of students, faculty and staff. Van Dyk said that this year Live Healthy Liberty and Student Counseling Services are working together to sponsor Emotional Health Month in order to emphasize the importance of both emotional and physical health.
“Wellness comes in many different forms and it’s not just running at the gym, lifting weights or watching what you’re eating,” Van Dyk said. “It’s also having that same kind of motivation with watching your stress levels or deciding to make healthy choices that … are going to benefit you emotionally.”
Van Dyk also recognized the role that sin plays in creating problems for people’s emotional health.
“We are in a fallen and broken world … so pain is known to all of us,” Van Dyk said. “ … It may look different for us at different times but some of the pain that we see here could be symptoms of anxiety or depression, grief from the loss of a loved one, an addiction such as substance abuse or pornography, self-harm or eating disorders,” Van Dyk said. “At times, it is good to go to counseling when you don’t necessarily feel you are able to manage your pain by yourself.”
Student Counseling Services offers a combination of individual and group counseling services for students. Van Dyk said that students can call and make an appointment for one-on-one short term counseling or they can join group counseling. Currently, Student Counseling Services has partnered with the Campus Pastor’s Office for Celebrate Recovery, which meets every Thursday at 7 p.m.
Additional groups are being created for the spring semester including Healing the Child Within, which will focus on working through family dysfunction, and Abide In Me, which will focus on working through anxiety and depression.
Van Dyk hoped that by creating a positive dialogue about Emotional Health, the stigma about receiving counseling will be removed and more students in need of help will receive it.
“Seeking help is a good thing, and there doesn’t have to be shame or guilt in the fact that sometimes life is just really hard and it’s really painful,” Van Dyk said. “It’s okay if at times it seems like we’re not able to function like we normally do on our own. It’s okay if we need some extra help.”
Student Counseling Services is located in Green Hall and can be reached at (434) 582-2651 or at email@example.com. For more information, visit liberty.edu/studentaffairs/studentcare.
LAPP is a news reporter.