Attending a college or university has a lot of perks. The most obvious is the education, but the number of people of similar ages and interests is also up there. Then there’s the free gym, free movies, and lots of other “free” things–of course you’re paying for all of them with tuition and room/board. But what’s the #1 free campus resource that you should be using, if you’re not already?
That campus resource would be the wellness center, although it may go by different names on different campuses. At mine, we have the Health and Wellness Center, with the Health Center housing the more doctor-y, medical side of health and the Wellness Center being the place for counseling and nutrition services.
I have been taking advantage of my campus’s wellness center for the past year, and my only regret is not going there sooner. I started seeing a counselor for individual sessions every other week during the second semester of my junior year. There was no good reason for me to wait that long. As someone who HATED the first semester of college during freshman, I certainly should have been going there sooner.
So the moral of the story is to not be like me. And if you need more reason than do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, here are five of them:
1. It’s “free.”
Or as we like to say, it’s thousands of dollars a year. But it’s thousands of dollars a year that you are already paying. On most campuses (in the U.S. at least) you are not charged any extra, regardless of your insurance situation. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
2. It’s convenient AF.
You’re already on campus every day. And you do have time. For me, it has been a commitment of one hour every two weeks. That’s only seven or eight hours a semester. That’s less than one season of a TV show.
3. There’s an option for everyone.
I’ve done individual counseling for the last two semesters, but this semester my regular counselor suggested that I start participating in the Interpersonal Process Group. There is also a Mindfulness Group at my school, and other colleges have groups for study skills, anger management, and lots of other stuff.
4. College is a super stressful time.
From the initial transition during freshman year to graduation and The Great Job Search, college is a time of change and turmoil. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is the top concern on campus, with 41.6% of students presenting symptoms. (Depression and relationship problems come in at second and third.)
5. It’s the time to start setting habits for the rest of your life.
Mental health is going to be important for the rest of your life, and as with so many other things, the tone you set in college will impact your habits going forward. Even if you can’t or don’t continue to attend therapy sessions after college, you will develop important coping skills and strategies while also learning about yourself.
Take advantage of it while you can.