Lily Calhoun, Campus Carrier reporter
Faith Choate, Campus Carrier editor
Berry College has many resources on campus dedicated to eliminating the stigma surrounding seeking help for mental health.
The Peer Educators are a group of students on campus whose goal is to educate and empower students to live healthily, both physically and mentally. The Peer Educators produce the “Pot Thought,” a bimonthly poster featured in bathroom stalls around campus. One Pot Thought released this semester focused on the stigma associated with mental health. Peyton Price, a senior Peer Educator, said that stigma about going to the counseling center is prominent.
“There’s still a negative connotation towards needing help,” Price said. “I think that a lot people would rather say, ‘I can do it all by myself, and if I can’t fix it all by myself then there’s something wrong with me,’ and that just isn’t true. We all need help.”
Berry offers short-term professional counseling at the Counseling Center, where students can get appointments with one of the three professional mental health counselors who work there. Counselors can address any problems students may be dealing with, such as stress, decision making, or body image, in addition to treating common mental health issues.
Terri Cordle, a licensed professional counselor and the associate director of counseling at Berry, said that students often believe that they are the only one feeling certain emotions. Generally, she said, they are not alone and a visit to the Counseling Center could help process those emotions.
“It helps to talk to someone in a protected space,” Cordle said.
Price explained that students are respected and accepted at counseling sessions. Students are never forced to disclose information and can share to their comfort level. The counselors want to pair with students and help them set and achieve goals.
“It’s really you-led and based on your individual needs,” Price said.
Both Cordle and senior Haley Stafford, a Peer Educator, said that the busyness of college life can sometimes interfere with seeking help. Stafford said that Berry students often have high levels of involvement on campus, which can lead to stress, prompting students to attend counseling.
“Everybody is stressed,” Stafford said. “It would be a good thing for everybody to come to the Counseling Center.”
Being proactive rather than reactive about mental health is important, according to Dean of Students Lindsey Taylor. She recommended that students go to counseling when they are feeling good so that they can be better prepared for harder days.
Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Services David Slade encouraged students to fight stigma surrounding mental health by sharing their stories.
“Stigmas become fossilized when they stay in the shadows,” Slade said.
Slade, Taylor, Cordle, Price and Stafford all agreed that peer-to-peer discussion of mental health greatly aids students’ wellbeing and raises awareness for maintaining mental health.
If students want to meet with a counselor, they can call the Counseling Center office and schedule an appointment at 706-236-2259. If looking to put on a hall program, plan a specialized BCC 100 class or learn more about the Peer Educators’ programs, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both the Counseling Center and the Peer Educators’ office are located in the Ladd Center.