After writing my previous blog on homesickness tips, I decided it would be a good idea to conduct an interview with the Office of Counseling & Accessibility Services. This is such an important office here at LIM, but not every student is aware of them and what they offer.
Below is my interview with Heather S. O’Leary, who is a Licensed Psychologist with Counseling & Accessibility. She had some really fantastic answers that I think will be very beneficial for students to read:
What is the Office of Counseling & Accessibility’s function?
Our mission is to promote personal growth and skill development through a variety of free and confidential services. We offer personal counseling with professionally trained counselors for a range of personal issues. Additionally, we offer accessibility services which provide academic and nonacademic accommodations for students with a qualifying disability.
We provide services such as collecting immunization records, processing medical withdrawals, and connecting students with referrals for medical/mental health services in the community.
Our office also holds workshops, consultations, and outreach events to raise awareness about mental health difficulties, enhance personal growth, and promote community building.
What is a consultation?
A consultation involves a conversation with a professionally trained counselor, typically regarding concerns about a student. LIM faculty, staff, students, and family members seek out consultations when they recognize students in distress or in need of help, when they need strategies for helping connect a student with our office or other support services, or to explore crisis intervention and management.
What are examples of the workshops you offer? And what are the benefits?
We offer self-defense training, nutrition and body image workshops, sexual assault awareness and bystander intervention training, and study skills and time management workshops. We also offer free yoga classes in the residence hall every other Tuesday night at 7! The benefit of these is enhancing personal growth, facilitating skill development, and promoting community building.
Do these services cost money?
All of our services—including personal counseling, events, and workshops—are free of charge to LIM students.
What’s the best advice you would give to a new student adjusting to life at LIM?
I would advise new students to become involved in campus life and ask for help, regardless of the need, early on. Transitioning to college can be exciting and difficult, and building a community can help to buffer challenges you might face.
For students who feel anxious, out of place, lonely, or like they just can’t find people they connect with, you’re not alone! It’s very common for new students to feel this way. Become involved in your classes, in residence life, and in student groups until you find your community.
If you need help—academically, socially, or personally—ask for it. LIM offers many avenues to help you succeed. If you’re not sure who to ask, seek out a staff or faculty member who can help you find the support you need.
What are some common reasons LIM students visit your office?
Students seek personal counseling for most anything you can think of. They often find it helpful to come to counseling when their problem-solving skills aren’t working and they’re feeling sad, depressed, confused, or angry. The range of specific personal issues is as varied as the students who walk through our doors, but it often includes difficulty adjusting to college, depression or sadness, anxiety or stress, eating or body image concerns, substance use, family or relationship issues, identity development, trauma, and academic performance, among others.
When do you recommend students to come visit the Counseling and Accessibility office?
Any time you feel it might be beneficial. It’s not uncommon for students to feel conflicted about coming to counseling, and we understand that. We can help you process conflicting feelings, as well as help you explore options for getting support, whether it’s short-term counseling, a brief consultation, or a referral to campus or community resources.
For students with formally diagnosed disabilities, we recommend sending in documentation and getting registered for Accessibility Services as early in their college career as possible. Once a student is registered and has accommodations in place, they can choose when to make use of them. It is important to note that accommodations are not retroactive—this means they can’t be applied to difficulties a student has experienced prior to registering with Accessibility Services. It’s better for a student to register as a preventative measure rather than waiting until they might be struggling without them.
How can a student set up an appointment? Do you offer walk-in hours?
Our office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday—students are welcome to walk in to schedule an appointment. We also strongly encourage students to call our office (646.218.6048) or email email@example.com to find a counselor’s next availability.
What do you like to discuss with students who come in?
It is important to discuss in depth the issue that has brought the student in. Our primary goal is to help students feel heard and understood, and work with them to find support and resources. We remind all students of their ethical and legal rights related to confidentiality.
I found your mental health self-assessment online. When do you recommend students take that screening?
Students can take our quick and anonymous mental health and alcohol use self-assessments at any time. They may be especially helpful for students who feel uncertain about seeking services or are unsure if counseling might be right for them.
What hotlines do you recommend students reach out to if they don’t feel comfortable coming in?
For students in crisis, I recommend reaching out to NYC Well at 888.NYC.WELL—they can also text “WELL” to 65173. Trained NYC Well counselors provide free and confidential support for suicide prevention and crisis counseling via phone, text, or chat, at any hour of the day. They can also help with scheduling appointments or accessing other mental health services.
For students who have concerns related to sexual assault, we recommend calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE to be connected with a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider.
We also provide an extensive list of resources for a wide range of issues on our website.
Finally, if students are experiencing a mental health emergency, we advise them to call 911 or seek immediate assistance at the nearest emergency room.
LIM College’s Office of Counseling & Accessibility Services is located on the 14th floor of Maxwell Hall - 216 East 45th St.