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Counseling Center changes name and focus

By Monét Cooper

The Wellness Center is now the Counseling and Learning Skills Resource Center. But it’s not just the name that’s changed, the objectives of the center have changed as well.

“The focus now is on mental health,” said Rosemary Armstrong, director of the center and a specialist in stress and trauma management. We’re compounding mental health and counseling equally with problem solving.

While the center still does testing for learning disabilities and leads seminars on everything from ways to manage time to developing study skills, there is a stronger emphasis on personal counseling, with a special concentration on critical incident stress debriefing or CISDs, and HIV/AIDS awareness. CISDs are typically done after a sudden or unexpected disaster such as a death or car accident.

“Talking about [tragedies] in a healthy environment starts the recovery process sooner,” said Armstrong.

Dialogue with a counselor also minimizes depression, which can affect a student’s academic and personal success and, in some cases, is a deterrent against something far worse than sliding grades: suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the country and the 3rd leading cause of death for black males ages 15 to 24.

“Depression is a major risk factor in suicide, but not all people with depression are suicidal,” said Armstrong. “Students may get in trouble at school or with the law; some may exhibit obstinate behavior or engage in fighting. Others may indulge in self-medication with drugs and/or alcohol.”

The Counseling and Learning Skills Resource Center is working with the Morehouse School of Medicine to implement the AIDS/HIV education component. Armstrong explains that faculty, staff and students will be solicited to become peer educators. Peer educators will receive training in speaking to others about HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness issues. Also, a new associate director, Aaron Turpeau ‘87, was hired in February.

Armstrong lists the center’s counseling staff, all doctoral-level, licensed therapists, as ready to handle the rising flow of foot traffic that makes its way to the center’s office each week.

“We have new people coming in everyday asking for services,” says Armstrong, adding that many students ask for information on learning study skills. “If we continue at this rate, we are going to outgrow the facility.”

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