By Blace Carpenter
Mental health is vital to maintaining a healthy and thriving campus, and Melissa Ware, the Counseling and Career Development director, has brought several programs to Grand Rapids Community College to help students achieve their goals and aspirations. While there are only two full-time counselors at the moment, they received 1368 appointments throughout the past academic year 2021-2022 and are here to help students in need.
“We got brief short-term individual therapy, crisis intervention, we have workshops, and lunch and learn series that occurs monthly,” said Ware.
The counseling center has also launched a new program called the Student Advisory Council, a team of 8-12 students who can lend skills and guidance to their fellow peers. Ware hopes this will bring a new perspective to the counseling center that will connect them to more students that are struggling.
“I am focused on student input,” said Ware. “I’m really focusing on trying to get as much information as I possibly can on what the experiences are of students here at GRCC and what their mental health means are.”
A national study from 2019 by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) shows that 68% of students have a job while in college, and 34% work 31 hours or more per week. This balance of school and work put a significant amount of stress on a student and shows the importance of having resources available.
During the 2022 fall semester, 51.9% of students who had attended appointments through the counseling center reported they struggle with anxiety, and 46.2% reported they struggle with depression. Ware and her team of counselors hope to help bring those numbers down and bring awareness to those who are struggling.
“Our job is to support the academic mission,” said Ware. “Mental is a part of a student’s overall well-being, and when students feel like they can achieve mental wellness, that can help them succeed in their academic goals.”
GRCC Counselors are available to help students same-day through their Crisis Intervention program. They are available Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The Counseling & Career Development Center is located on the third floor of the Student Community Center in Room 368. To make an appointment or ask questions, they can be reached by phone at (616) 234-4130 or by email at email@example.com.