Isabelle Nichols has been spending her time making flyers and bulletins to spread awareness around the Castleton University campus.
“A lot of students probably have more on their mind, but students are definitely unaware of the programs at school that are available to help them if they need it,” Nichols said.
Nichols, an intern in the Wellness Center, has taken on the task of informing students through social media and flyers that the Wellness Center is open, accepting students and hosting programs and events virtually.
One of the current virtual programs is the Student Support Network, which provides training for students regarding mental and emotional health, warning signs of someone struggling mentally or emotionally, tactics to approach those struggling, resources for assistance and how to connect those in need to the appropriate resource.
The Student Support Network had a successful turnout last semester despite being derailed from normalcy when students were sent home in March. Abby Mayo, the student coordinator of the SSN, spoke highly of the cohort.
“Last spring, once students were remote and we had taken a few weeks to reconvene, all students were able to receive full certification,” Mayo said.
The SSN is a certificate program that has aided students in all majors. Alyssa Ezell, a senior psychology major, participated in SSN last semester.
“People will go to others who are more informed and can give them help that is effective and comes from a place of knowledge. Not just someone who will say ‘I feel you Bud.’ SSN provides a more knowledgeable, impactful approach for those in need of help,” Ezell said.
The goal of the program is to promote a network on Castleton’s campus that allows students to feel as though they have others looking out for them.
“I’ve always been considered the ‘mom’ friend in my friend groups. I have definitely applied what I learned in SSN to helping my friends in general, especially in the way that I talk to them now. I try to be more empathetic in the way that I communicate with them,” Ezell said.
The Student Support Network program is open to all who wish to apply.
“It is important to note that SSN will take place via zoom this semester. All students, both remote and on campus will be able to participate,” Mayo stated.
The first SSN meeting of this semester will take place via zoom on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 3-4:15pm. The training will consist of seven sessions over the course of the semester.
“This is a great chance to meet other students who share similar values; concern for others, and the desire to have a positive impact. It’s really a beneficial tool for creating a community too,” said Martha Coulter, director of the Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center has adapted to pandemic life by offering other virtual resources too. It is basically business as usual, however, the physical space is closed. One can reach out to the Wellness Center staff to meet virtually.
This semester, the center has six counselors on staff. Sessions are social-distancing-friendly as they take place via Zoom.
“We have found that students really enjoyed meeting virtually. There is a sense of privacy and intimacy that is still very present,” said Amy Bremel, coordinator of Advocacy, Activism and Non-Violence Education.
The Wellness Center encourages students to sign up for counseling ahead of time due to an uptick in students utilizing this resource.
“We also have wellness chats two times a week. This is a great time to be able to come together and talk through what’s going on,” said Bremel.
Despite trying to operate as normal as possible, Coulter said it has been challenging to find alternatives to the events they normally put on at the school.
“I recently added to our Facebook page, a self-assessment screener. This allows students to go on and take different assessments to see if what they are struggling with is anxiety or depression,” shared Coulter.
The screening assessment can also be found on the Wellness Center website. The center has traditionally held an in-person anxiety and depression screening that many professors provide extra-credit for attending.
To learn more about the online resources and events put on by the Wellness Center, check out their Instagram; @castletonwellness, Twitter: @CUwellness and Facebook: @castletonwellnesscenter or call 802-468-1346 with questions.