Students facing problems on campus and looking for advice now have a more accessible way to get it. Announced in an email to NVU-Johnson students, the Travelling Wellness Center is a new program that takes the Wellness Center’s support out of the basement of Senators Hall onto more accessible areas on campus.
“The Travelling Wellness Center program developed from feedback from students that many do not know where the Wellness Center is located or some students do not feel comfortable coming down to the Wellness Center due to stigma,” said Kate McCarthy, director of the Wellness Center. “We wanted to make the Wellness Center and the counselors more visible on campus and meet students where they are. We are trying to increase access to counseling and reduce some of the barriers to counseling. We also want to show students that it is ok to talk to someone and it is expected that we all need someone to talk to sometimes. Life can be challenging and it is good to have a counselor to talk with to work through whatever is going on.”
The Travelling Wellness Center can be found in three locations: Mondays at the Women’s Center in Dewey from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesdays at SHAPE’s lobby from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at the library from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
“We’ve been trying for a little bit to do it,” said Finn Losch, a counselor at the Wellness Center and one of the traveling counselors. “We have a waiting list usually, and we also still wanna be a little more engaged with the college campus. It’s been one of those things where we have to figure out, how do we bring [ourselves] to you guys. We thought this was just a really simple way. This is more of a trial run. I think next year we’re hoping to have more hours. Maybe every day of the week. Maybe even expand the hours that we offer down in the center. It’s just to get an idea of what the students would like to see. What programming they would like, how we can best help and be approachable. So we figured, now’s better than not.”
For students who are unable to make it to the hours of the Travelling Wellness Center, they still have options on getting help with any issues that arise during the week. First and foremost is going down to the Wellness Center during its usual hours of operation of Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“If it’s off-hours or we’re closed,” said Losch, “we work a lot with Lamoille County Mental Health and we use their crisis lines. We try to set-up so that there’s access to these local resources.
Other avenues include Pathways, a non-profit organization that hosts a live phone-line with operators who have personal experience with mental illness. “We use the hospital,” said Losch. “The Vermont text crisis line, too. Pathways is this really cool space where people in the community who have lived mental health experience just hold space for people, answer the phone lines and chat.”
“We also work with RAs and HAs and Res Life. We try to use what’s in the community a little better for those off times,” said Losch. “We would love to be more available on campus. I think extending our hours into the evening would be great, even if it were only a couple of times a week. The Wellness Center, all of us there, would absolutely support that. We do realize that it is a bit of a deficit. You guys are here 24/7 and problems don’t always occur on Tuesdays at 10.”
The Travelling Wellness Center allows for students to get professional help for more short-term problems that arise daily. As with the usual Wellness Center operation, all conversations held with a Travelling Counselor are confidential, unless there is an immediate threat of harm to the student or others.
“We’re really excited and open to any ideas and feedback, what is or isn’t working,” said Losch. “We just really want to be as accessible as possible to the community up here. We do understand that being in Senators South is a little cumbersome. We’ll do whatever we can with the feedback and again, if students want to band together and advocate for more mental health services, we’ll fully support that.”