This is the second story in a series about mental health on the Endicott College campus.
When we think about mental health, Maureen Gebhardt, Director of the Counseling Center, wants us to think about Simone Biles: “She said ‘it’s ok to not be ok,’ and I love that message.”
At Endicott, Student Affairs has been working to reduce the stigma and embarrassment that can surround mental health and accepting support. This effort has grown in significance thanks to COVID-19, raising the importance of maintaining health of both the physical body and the mind while students face more frequent struggles with depression, anxiety, and other related effects of isolation.
“We’re meeting with students who have multiple need areas, need more involved care, or need more time-sensitive support,” Gebhardt shared. “I think we’re in an adjustment period. A lot of students have never had to deal with this sort of adversity—we’re working to normalize these increased needs for resiliency and coping skills that they understandably may not have.”
A significant step in the effort to promote all-round self-care at Endicott is the creation of the new Wellness Center. Once separated into two different offices, the College has brought together the Health Center and the Counseling Center into a new entity focused on the holistic health of the whole student.
“Endicott College was one of the few schools who continued to operate in person last year because we were clear about the effects of isolation on students' mental health,” said Marlin Nabors, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students. “President DiSalvo has been equally clear about the focus on supporting students' mental health in this new phase of the pandemic, which is why we’ve created this Wellness Center Model.”
When you visit the Wellness Center, you’ll find what Gebhardt says is one of the largest advantages of Endicott’s small size. “With the new Wellness Center Model, the Counseling Center has a collaborative and proactive relationship with the Health Center—we collectively look at all the services that somebody might need. When the medical provider meets with a student, they might suggest also talking to someone in counseling to help diagnose concerns, for instance. If we see how a student could be more successful, we try to connect them with supports within the College—from student success to accessibility to residence life.”
The new Wellness Center brings together the Counseling Center, managed by Endicott, and the Health Center, run by Middleton Family Medicine, all under the direction of Nabors. Students check in at the main desk for all services, and the Wellness teams can attend to most medical needs that students might have, from blood work and medication adjustment to diagnoses of general illness. Outside referrals for specialties round out the scope of care.
Gebhardt is especially enthusiastic about the addition of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) who can meet with students and help navigate the balance between physical and emotional health. While the physicians and NPs at Middleton Family Medicine do work with the Counseling Center to diagnose and prescribe medication, the Psychiatric NP has a specialty knowledge about the intricacies of dispensing prescriptions that allows Endicott to treat more complex issues.
Additionally, “We now have much quicker access to getting someone started on meds,” Gebhardt explained. “We can walk a student over to the Health Center and get an appointment much faster than an outside office can offer, and for students who still see a primary care doctor at home and require a visit, that extra time can be a huge inconvenience.”
Feeling nervous about a visit? “When in doubt, check it out,” said Gebhardt. “Come in and talk to someone one time; there is no commitment. Information is power and, this way, you can make a more informed decision about your health.”
She recalled a story about a student who had never been to counseling and came in for the first time. “She said, ‘do you know why I’m doing this? Because you guys met with my roommate last year, and every time she went she came back more happy and relaxed.’ And that’s what we’re doing here, reducing the stigma and breaking down barriers to getting help.”
Confidential counseling services through the Wellness Center are free to students. Call 978-232-2106, email email@example.com, or stop by the offices in the Lower Callahan Center, to find out more. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing an emergency, please call Public Safety & Police at 978-232-2222.