GV Counseling Center hosts Mental Health Screening Day


GVL / Macayla Cramer

Katherine Rauhut, Staff Writer

In recent years, mental health has become a prevalent discussion on college campuses. Various mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and substance abuse affect many college students and staff members.

According to MLive reporting, a nationwide study from the University of Michigan conducted last year found that 47% of the 32,754 college students involved exhibited symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. 66% of the students reported feeling isolated from others, while only 40% of those who had been screened for depression or anxiety participated in mental health counseling.

Facing such pervasive threats to mental health, Grand Valley State University’s University Counseling Center sought to bolster its wellness efforts by offering free, confidential mental health screenings at various locations on its Allendale and Pew campuses on Oct. 6.

In addition to in-person events, the counseling center hosted a live webinar on its Instagram story on the same day to provide students with tips regarding depression identification and management skills.

Associate Director of Clinical and Crisis Services at GVSU Eric Klingensmith was at the Kirkhof screening location on Thursday afternoon, speaking one-on-one with students and providing information regarding the university’s counseling services.

“This event is important because it helps raise awareness, gives students information about our services and helps students to recognize and identify the struggles they are facing,” Klingensmith said.

For students who are not necessarily struggling with mental health issues, Klingensmith said, counseling can still be a highly beneficial experience for them.

“Learning to do stress management as an undergraduate student is a lifelong skill,” Klingensmith said.

He encouraged students to look at the GVSU University Counseling Center website for self-guided online workshops if they don’t feel they need counseling from a clinician.

For those who missed the chance to stop by one of the in-person sessions on Thursday, the UCC offers an online screening similar to the one given on campus, as well as a self-help page that aids in mindfulness, stress management and more.

In addition to these efforts, GVSU has a peer education ambassador program in which students can recommend resources to their fellow students.

Emily Murray, one of the peer educators working in the ambassador program, had some words of advice for students who may be hesitant to explore the counseling services the university offers.

“Just coming in and seeing what resources we have to offer would be helpful,” Murray said. “You don’t have to stick with it if you’re not comfortable with it. We’re also always available to help you find resources outside of the campus center.”

Chris Pierrant, a limited licensed professional counselor at GVSU, said awareness is important, not just for those who are affected by mental health but for their friends and family as well.

“I think it’s helpful to know what mental illness can look like, so that way they can know if their friends are struggling with anxiety or depression,” Pierrant said.

The first step to getting help is identifying that there is an issue, so by providing everyone with resources – not just those in need of them – the university aims to spread a greater awareness regarding mental health.

Murray said the university is working to further reduce the stigma against mental illness.

“On campus, we’ve established the mental health check-ins, which are the little kiosks spread around campus,” Murray said. “I feel like if people are just walking by and they don’t really feel comfortable talking to an individual, they can do that on their own time. So, I think, at least in our campus community, we are trying to destigmatize (mental illness) as much as we can.”

Students interested in GVSU’s counseling services are encouraged to visit the website at www.gvsu.edu/counsel, send an email to [email protected] or call (616)-331-3266 during business hours.