Laura Mulqueen highlights the importance of availing of your college counselling services.
It is a shame students don’t avail of their college counselling services more. However, there seems to be a particular stigma attached to paying a visit to your college councillor – believe it or not.
 
People under estimate the relief and comfort attached to having a free service such as this. Notice my emphasis on free and comfort. How many of you reading this article have ever needed a friend from outside your social circle who would willing give up an hour or more of their day to sit and listen; just listen to what you have to say without judgement or slipping into an agony aunt who instructs you what to do. Sounds like an ideal friend, right? I’m sure many of you realize that not all problems are simple math. College is a time of incredible flux and stress; it is also possibly the best years of your life. To juggle these conflicting emotions is a lot to take on board. There comes a time when everybody needs someone to talk to.
 
While researching this article I visited many university websites to consider what they offered their students to contribute towards their mental well-being. A few terms stood out while doing so: “student well-being”, “support” and “counsel”.  Counselling is a term that can be hugely misinterpreted. To counsel is to offer guidance, something we all need from time to time. It is not specifically for people who are depressed or diagnosed with a mental illness, although these issues are not exempt to their services.  
 
To reiterate, counselling is for everyone. The reason this service is free is because it is not only important, it is vital. Sometimes all it takes is to sit and talk or rant or cry at someone and get it all out of your system. Laying things out on the table may allow some to gain a better perspective. Your issue can be about anything. If you aren’t sure what the issue is then that is okay too. Sit and talk, it’s their job to help and they really want to. So much money is invested into your third level education, do not waste the benefits you are given. Second level schools have lost this right, by using this service and seeking help you are keeping the facility running. Post university; free counselling is hard to come by and usually very expensive. 
 
I speak genuinely when I say the nicest people are to be found working in this field, right down to the receptionist. Nobody is there to judge or make assumptions. It may come as a shock but some people understand and know what it is like to have a terrible day because some guy slammed a revolving door and it hit you in the head in an embarrassing fashion without apologising. Something as small and silly can turn your day on its side, go talk it out. That is not a small problem if it upsets you.  But please go and make the appointment. Most counselling services have drop in hours. Skip that lecture if you must, tell that friend you have to call a rain cheque on that coffee and please talk. Your health (and this includes your mentality) is worth so much.  
 
This article was written with the purpose of highlighting, underlining and capitalising the importance of availing of counselling services in college. The undercurrent message I am simultaneously sending is to seek help and keep a healthy mind. I cannot recommend Niteline enough. The service is for college students who need someone to talk to. If you cannot face sitting down and speaking the difficult words “Please help me” then type it out by instant message or ring them for free. http://www.niteline.ie.

Photo: Flickr