By Megan Good
With Thanksgiving break fast approaching, professors at Bluffton University are piling on work and reminding students to start preparing for exams. This semester has been busy for a lot of the students. With papers due every other week, final exams coming up and project deadlines looming, the stress students are feeling is starting to wear them down.
One of the best ways to deal with problems is to talk about it with someone else. That’s what Rae Staton, Bluffton’s campus counselor, is here for.
“I work with students that have a variety of issues,” Staton said. “Some with diagnosed mental illness, some that are just stressed about school [or] some that are just feeling overwhelmed with life.”
Staton is located in the Health Center in Ropp Hall and it is her job to talk to students about what is bothering them.
“We do Talk Therapy,” Staton said. “We sit through and talk through the situations that they are dealing with, help examine them from a different perspective, help identify their own thoughts that might be contributing to the problem and try to work through some of those things.”
Staton also teaches a lot of skills on coping and how to handle things.
Students may have a negative connotation about counseling. They see it negatively portrayed in movies and TV shows, they know or knew someone who went through counseling and it may not have helped, or they are afraid of what other people may think of them if they go to seek help.
“There is a lot of work going on right now by people trying to break the stigma,” Staton said. “I think the fear of what they think a counselor is going to do, or what they think we’re going to tell you to do—we don’t give advice, we don’t tell you how to live your life. We help you explore what would be good choices for you.”
Gathering information and learning about the struggles friends, family or even oneself might be going through is a good place to start. For some mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression, there is no easy cure.
“If it was simply a matter of try harder and get over it they probably would have done that already,” Staton said.
Staton also mentioned one of the best ways to help a friend or loved one who is struggling is to be there for them.
“Just be there,” said Staton. “Just saying ‘It sounds like you’re having a really hard time, that must be difficult’ and ‘Is there a way that I can help you?’” Just having someone who is willing to be there in that pit with you for a while without trying to fix you—that accepts that this is where you’re at—is really helpful.”
Anyone can go to counseling at any time. Staton suggests that if a student is feeling particularly stressed or lonely then that would be a good time to drop in and see her. Counseling is not a lifetime commitment, either.
“You’re not locked in. If you come and you don’t think it’s for you then you don’t have to come back. There’s no law that says you have to come back if it’s not something you found helpful.”
If a student does decide to give counseling a try, then they don’t have to worry about anything they talk about with Staton being spread. Nothing a student tells Staton will be told to anyone else.
“I don’t talk to other students about what happens in here, I don’t talk to professors, I don’t call the police if you’re breaking a law, I don’t turn you into the dean if you’re breaking school rules,” Staton said. “That stuff doesn’t matter in here as much as why you do the stuff you do.”
If a student would like to set up an appointment to talk to Staton, they can do so through the Bluffton University website, call her at 419-3583449, email her at email@example.com or call the Student Life Office.