Before I was diagnosed with depression, I thought that counseling was only for people with “issues” — people with mental illnesses, past traumatic events and unresolved feelings. But counseling isn’t just for those that need help or assistance resolving their emotional baggage. Counseling is for everyone.

Now when I say counseling is for everyone, I mean that everyone could use someone to talk to; someone who is trained to help you navigate life with a good mental framework. College students especially need it.

Students go through a lot regardless of whether they have mental illnesses or not. You have four to five courses (probably more depending on your schedule), that you have to attend. You need to make time for some organizations you are probably a part of, including events, meetings and planning. You need to take care of yourself and have a social life. And that’s not including the various concerns depending on your major.

Biology and chemistry students have to do vigorous research. Dance and theatre students have to worry about auditions. Graphic design and art students spend a lot of time in Rutledge working on their pieces. And we’re not even getting into individual schedules, jobs, personal lives and obligations.

The point is that everyone goes through something. They don’t have to have something wrong to have a little chat, to vent a little. That’s actually how I got acquainted with Counseling Services at Winthrop. Someone told me that “you can just go in there and tell them about your day. Tell them that things are stressful and they can be a listening ear.”

Winthrop students pay Counseling Services every academic year for 10 free sessions, and most of them never take advantage of that opportunity. Sessions usually go for 30 to 40 minutes at a time, depending on what you’re talking about. They are not judgmental and can give you helpful tips for coping with various stressors, from personal relationships to balancing schoolwork and life.

Gretchen Baldwin, a counselor at Winthrop, said she invites students to come speak to counselors if they are having issues like roommate confrontations or more intense incidents like trauma.

“Recognizing when we need some extra help is an important sign of maturity. It’s something that we need to be learning during this time in our life — college,” Baldwin said. “Being able to recognize that ‘you know, this has gone a little farther than I can handle on my own. I could really use some advice or guidance, get some strategies from somebody who knows what they’re talking about.’ Trust me, we’ve heard it all.”

Sessions are confidential, and the counselors cannot confirm or deny that they’ve seen a student unless there is a threat to life.

“We are very short-term, but you can get some work done in a few sessions if you get right down to it,” Baldwin said.

There is also a community clinic on Winthrop’s campus that will take students for free. It is part of the Master’s degree in counseling program, located in the Withers Building. Baldwin said that the clinic is always taking clients.

“They are masters-level counselors-in-training. It’s pretty useful for students,” Baldwin said. “[Counseling Services] tend to see folks who are a little more clinical, where their problems are intense. The community clinic… really fits if someone needs a listening ear.”

There’s nothing wrong with getting a little guidance. With finals just around the corner, it would not be a bad time to get some things off your chest now.

Counseling Services is located on the second floor of Crawford. They are available for appointments from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; emergency hours are 4 to 5 p.m. They are also available on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; emergency hours are from 2 to 3 p.m. If students would like to schedule an appointment, call 803-323-2206


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