OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Counseling Center, which focuses on treating clients with “acceptance, respect, compassion and support” through a broad range of services, recently celebrated its first anniversary in its new location on the third floor of Lester Hall.
The space is an improvement over the center’s old home, in the old Band Hall near Bishop Hall. Along with the new office, officials plan to expand the counseling staff with four or five new positions in the coming years and offer more outreach services to the Ole Miss community, Director Bud Edwards said.
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common issues the Counseling Center handles.
“The way stress manifests itself is really varied,” Edwards said. “Some people get anxious when they’re under stress and some people get depressed when they’re stressed.
“In terms of the diagnostic categories we see clients with, anxiety is the No. 1 issue and depression is No. 2. It has been that way for about eight to 10 years now.”
Counseling is beneficial to anyone struggling with these and other issues. When things just aren’t right, the important thing is to know that it is OK to get help, Edwards said.
“The first thing I suggest is to recognize when something is different,” Edwards said. “The second thing is ask yourself whether it persists.
“If you know yourself well enough to know that occasionally you’re going to have bad days, or you may feel down in the dumps, that’s about as normal as it gets. If you know the extent of that, then you can know whether the situation is something more.”
The center’s staff works to create a warm, welcoming environment that fosters respect for patients. The staff firmly believes in self-determination and growth. Trust and safety are also cornerstones of the Counseling Center’s values.
Personal counseling and therapy, group counseling and therapy, crisis intervention, consultation, employee assistance and campus outreach programs are offered to faculty, staff and students. Anxiety and depression, relationship problems, substance abuse, college adjustment issues, eating disorders, grief and loss issues, and family or work problems are among the issues the staff can handle.
Employees can get four consultations per calendar year through the employee assistance program. The first is free, and the remaining three are $30 apiece, payable through payroll deduction. The short-term service is often used by employees dealing with challenging work or life situations.
Visits are free for students, but a $20 fee is charged for no-shows or late cancellations. There are no session limits on visits for students, and the center makes external referrals at students’ requests.
Several different free group therapy sessions are also available. The topics include “Calm In Chaos,” a four-week educational class designed to help participants bring tranquility to even their most hectic days, and “Understanding Self and Others,” a special group for graduate students to gain insights about themselves, grief and loss, and other topics. Support groups also are available for international students, making peace with food and group meditation, among others.
In response to a recent presidential executive order that limited immigration from several countries, the Counseling Center has opened a support group for anyone affected by the issue.
“We do try to be sensitive to current events going on in the state, as well as globally, and we keep the staff apprised of those things so clients can access appropriate services,” Edwards said.
Services there don’t stop at 5 p.m. The crisis intervention program makes a counselor available 24 hours a day for emergencies. The center asks those who need after-hours help for an emergency situation to call the University Police Department at 662-915-7234 to be connected to a counselor.
Speaking with a counselor after hours doesn’t require any official police action and no police report is filed for those cases.
The Counseling Center also refers clients to the psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in the University Health Center when needed.
The Office of Violence Prevention, which helps students navigate concerns about relationship violence, stalking or other issues, is also located in the Counseling Center. The office also provides prevention programming for students.
Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, UM assistant director of violence prevention and an attorney, helps students who may have been sexually assaulted, or the victim of a physical assault, stalking or other crimes to navigate their options. She provides information to help them decide whether to file criminal charges or handle the issue through the student conduct process or with the campus Title IX coordinator’s office.
She is also on call after hours to help students work with authorities and seek medical treatment or help with the evidence collection process when requested.
“My office is driven by the students,” Mosvick said. “I never tell them what to do. I give them all the information available so they can make the best decision for them because they’re the ones who have to live their lives.
“I call it an ’empowerment model.’ It’s about empowering the student to make the best decision.”
Mosvick often helps students, and sometimes their friends, work through concerns over a situation to determine the best course of action. She urges anyone with an issue about themselves or a friend to call or email her.
“I can be that person’s advocate throughout the entire process,” she said. “I’m nonjudgmental. If you make a decision, I am going to be supportive of that decision.”