2 counselors, 2,000 students: Concordia Counseling Center provides mental health resources for students

Summertime sadness doesn’t have to turn into wintertime depression. Concordia College’s Counseling Center is an on-campus resource for mental health awareness and services. 

Carrie Nostrant is a mental health counselor said the center “aims to support and facilitate students’ personal and academic success and development by identifying the needs of our students, providing brief therapeutic services, and/or connecting students to appropriate services, either on- or off-campus.” 

Left to right: Director of Counseling Center and Disability Services Matthew Rutton, administrative assistant Maria Lucio, and mental health counselors Austen Farren and Carrie Nostrant work in Old Main 109A, open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Maria Klipfel

There are currently only two mental health counselors Concordia employees, each serving five clients per day. The approximate wait time for an initial appointment is typically two weeks. While two weeks sounds like a long wait, Concordia is actually right on track with this time. 

According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, colleges are supposed to have one counselor per 1,000 students. The average wait time in some colleges can reach up to three to four weeks. 

Austen Farren is another mental health counselor at Concordia. Farren worked previously in a short-term crisis related services, but is now shifting to individual therapeutic care. 

“I think it’s great that Concordia tuition includes counseling services on campus for students,” Farren said. “Many universities require insurance or forms of payment even when students are currently enrolled.”

Not only does Concordia have free services, but there is also no limit on the number of sessions. Students are able to continue with therapy for any period of time that is needed. 

Senior Brock Montgomery, Mental Health Advocate for the Student Government Association, feels that the Concordia Counseling Center is a resource that should be utilized and hopes to create more resources for future students. 

“My main goal is to provide educational resources for students and staff, how to get help and information along those lines,” Montgomery said. “There are resources out there and we need to encourage people to use them.” 

This current school year is especially a hard time for students. 

“Due to COVID and online schooling, I have absolutely seen an uptick in feelings of loneliness, isolation, depressive symptoms such as lack of motivation, lack of energy, feelings of sadness, loss of enthusiasm, withdrawing from friends and family and screen burnout,” Nostrant said. 

Now more than ever, students are encouraged to seek resources if needed. 

“Mental health affects so many aspects of our lives; physical, social, professional, emotional, financial and mental. The sooner we become connected to ourselves, how we think, how we feel, and how we cope, the sooner we can address unresolved issues or implement healthy coping techniques,” Nostrant said. “Effectively coping and facing our mental health issues can set us up to have healthy relationships, positive views of ourselves and success in other aspects of our lives such as future careers.” 

There are many ways to improve mental health, whether with professional help or self-help. A regular sleep schedule, eating well and exercise are all linked to improving mental health. 

“I think exercise really helps, talking to people helps. It’s hard at first but once you do it, it really does help,” Montgomery said. 

While there are steps that students can take themselves to improve their mental health, professional help can be beneficial as well. 

“The key to taking steps of improvement in our mental health is staying in tune with ourselves and reaching out when we need a little extra support,” Nostrant said. 

Support can be in the form of confining in friends and family as well as professional help. 

“If I can help make someone’s life a little bit easier, clearer, or filled with a little more compassion and love then I will be serving my purpose,” Nostrant said. “I believe with our limited time in this life, we should be able to experience as much light and happiness as we can—we are all entitled to joy.”

An appointment can be set up online at the Counseling Center web page, or at 218-299-3514. The center is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Outside resources are also available. If students have questions about off-campus options they can contact the center.

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