Drake University Counseling Center has prepared for the new year with new support opportunities and new council members.
Counseling Center Director Kayla Bell shared why the center feels students need the support opportunities it is offering this year.
“We witnessed many students experiencing overwhelm and burnout due to the implications of Drake Busy, multiple expectations and minimal time to take a break,” Bell said.
Bell and other staff have prepared a support group for students to combat or prevent their stress and early burnout.
“To interrupt Drake Busy, we created a Bulldog Balance space, which focuses on taking a moment to intentionally pause, focus on themselves rather than every other expectation and also connect with counselors in a more informal setting,” Bell said. “We are exploring ways to incorporate this more, given the interest of students. We will likely pilot another four-week group focused on Drake balance.”
New Counseling Center employee Eli Lawrence lists the methods students can use at Bulldog Balance to pause and refocus away from their stress. Their mindfulness programming during the last week of August varied per day, featuring simple chats, music, meditation, Play-Doh, Zentangles and coloring.
Counseling Center staff recognize that students have different needs and need to destress and refocus with different methods.
“For many folks, making an appointment to meet one-on-one with a new counselor sight unseen may feel intimidating,” Lawrence said. “Meeting informally can give students a chance to get to know our therapists and talk without any expectations.”
Regardless of students’ preference for informal support groups or one-on-one appointments, there will be more support groups to come and individual appointments are still available.
“This year we have added additional counselors to our staff to reduce the length of time students wait for an initial appointment,” Lawrence said. “In addition, we have our urgent appointments available 9 a.m.-3 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday beginning next week.”
To reduce the strain on the appointment-making process, the Counseling Center has added new staff members that represent a range of identities and backgrounds to better serve Drake students.
Lawrence, who uses they/them pronouns, is the center’s new assistant director. Tyler Jacobs-Lewis (he/him/his) and Sydnee Feuerhelm (she/her/hers) joins the staff of therapists, and Alex Corder (she/her/hers) is the new student therapist intern.
“This year we are welcoming diverse new team members with a variety of professional experiences and skills,” Lawrence said.
Besides Bulldog Balance, there are more planned events to help students with other mental health needs and to spread awareness.
“September is Suicide Awareness Month, and the Student Counseling Center will be hosting weekly events throughout the month,” Lawrence said. “In October, we plan to begin several weekly support groups.”
Kayla said that the Counseling Center hopes to continually adapt to student needs and offer more opportunities to improve the mental health of the Drake community.
“We hope that students will utilize this space to pause and reflect on their needs, give themselves permission to rest, engage in some fun activities that we have planned and also connect with other students to talk about how they may be adjusting to the new school year,” Bell said.