Lauderdale to improve counseling services

After receiving disappointing feedback from surveys, word-of-mouth and The Lamron's editorial last year, Lauderdale Health and Counseling Services has made a number of changes to better serve its clients.

"We're really evaluating everything that we do and making significant changes if needed," said Melinda DuBois, administrative director of student health and counseling.

With the help of Active Minds, a national organization promoting mental health awareness that has a chapter at Geneseo, the counseling center has started to remodel its system.

"We're working as a liaison between students and the health center," said senior Sarah Holmes, president of the Geneseo chapter of Active Minds. "We've been working with staff to brainstorm changes, and we put on events to try to encourage a positive outlook on mental health."

"The organization works well with us if we want to run stuff by students," said DuBois. "They're a great soundboard to bring student perspective."

To address one of the biggest complaints of recent years, the counseling center has been working to get clients in for appointments as quickly as possible, DuBois said. While in the past it might have taken up to two weeks to get an appointment, it now takes less than a week. If a student calls in with a serious crisis, he or she can be seen that day. "We have staff that scheduled an hour out of their day to manage any kind of crisis," DuBois added.

DuBois said that while the center handles all mental health issues from depression to roommate problems, the majority of students come in with anxiety or stress, leading to the development of a new project.

DuBois said that students often ask about ongoing therapy groups, and although they've been done before, they often don't last long. This year, the health center will be putting on a number of workshops focused on stress management.

"We thought these workshops could be focused on giving students skills to manage that stress in a healthy way," DuBois said.

Workshops will offer training in a number of skills including meditation, relaxation and self-hypnosis. "If you have those skills … you can use them all the time," DuBois said.

Another new program being enacted this year is R.E.A.C.T. Training students to recognize distress in their peers, the program provides tools to help identify when things are getting serious.

Residence directors have already received the training and are passing it on to the resident assistants in each hall on campus. Members of Active Minds are also learning to help with the training. "One of the things that we'd really like them to see is that we have a peer educational component," said DuBois. "With a limited amount of staff, we can still do a lot."

"What I really would love for students to do is to let us know if they have concerns, questions or suggestions," DuBois said. "That's really important to us."

E-mail addresses for all of the psychologists and an anonymous comment sheet are available online. Active Minds at Geneseo has a Facebook page and can also be reached at

The first stress workshop will be held this Friday, Sept. 17 at the Interfaith Center from 3 - 4 p.m. The sign-up sheet is available at