Column: The counseling services at MU are helpful, but the location is not

Students should not have to walk so far to get the counseling help they need.
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Rachel Schnelle is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life for The Maneater.

The college experience for students offers new opportunities for growth as well as challenges. The counseling services at MU offer a safe, understanding environment to help students with whatever they are struggling with. While these services are convenient, the location of the counseling center is not.

The MU Counseling Center is located on the west side of campus in Parker Hall and sits right next to Naka Hall, which is notorious for being far away from everything on campus.

The first time I ever went to therapy was during my first semester of college at the counseling center. It was vulnerable and uncomfortable at first, but I slowly realized how important it was for my mental health.

Unfortunately, because of my busy schedule, my sessions ended up being in the middle of the day. By that time of the day, I was tired and out of energy. The last thing I wanted to do was walk to the counseling center and talk about tough topics in my life. There were many times last semester where I was more focused on the nap I was about to take than my therapy session. I got out of breath when I was walking there because it was a 20 minute walk from my dorm since I live in Hatch Hall.

However, it is understandable why counseling services are at Parker Hall. It offers privacy and seclusion and makes students feel like they don’t have to walk in the middle of campus.

Aside from my close friends and family, nobody else knows that I go to counseling. If it were in the middle of campus, more people would know.

Teachers and student highly encourage counseling but fail to mention where it’s located.

Walking to a lecture hall across campus for a class is one thing, it’s another thing to walk across campus to sit in a chair and talk about the problems in your life. I was at my most vulnerable state during those sessions. It’s hard to talk about your deepest struggles with someone that doesn’t know you. The vulnerability of these conversations constantly wore me out.

A solution could mean a variety of things. It could mean finding a place to have another counseling center.

While Parker Hall is closer to Mark Twain Hall, it isn’t close to my dorm on the other side of campus. If there was an additional counseling center at MU near the College Crossing and the Truman Central Neighborhoods, and the then the counseling center would receive more students.

It could also mean reaching out to the MU Wellness Resource Center and MU Women’s Center on campus. These services are there to help students succeed. While they are not qualified to give therapy, they are still able to listen and help students if they’re struggling.

The first step to improving your mental health is recognizing that you need help. Accepting that you need help is good, but actually going to get help is even better. While the university encourages students to reach out, it can be difficult to make that first step. I was absolutely terrified going into the counseling center for the first time.

Mental illnesses can make students feel alone and isolated, and the counseling center is incredibly resourceful. However, the current location of the counseling center makes it that much more difficult for students to benefit from their resources.

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