By C. Aileen Blaine
Though the pandemic has caused many to feel lonely or isolated, Youngstown State University’s Student Counseling Services is kicking off the spring semester with some new groups and activities.
Ann Jaronski, director of Student Counseling Services, said it’s sometimes difficult getting enough people together to have a meaningful group experience, but the pandemic has brought to light how many are craving connections with others.
“We’ve been so separate and apart for the last two years that coming together or being in the same space with people — just in and of itself — can be very healing for people,” she said.
Jaronski acknowledged that though some may be unsure about joining support groups with strangers, Student Counseling Services will assist in fostering a helpful community.
“It’s normal to be apprehensive or nervous going into the unknown,” she said. “But that’s normal. That’s a piece of what we as therapists are trained to deal with.”
In addition to the new groups sessions, counseling services has also joined resources with the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center to offer the campus community biofeedback and light therapy devices for checkout.
“We know that the shorter days — the gray days — are not really conducive to uplifting people’s moods, especially if they’re sensitive to light,” Jaronski said.
Light therapy can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, sleep disorders and forms of depression by using LED lights that mimic sunlight. The boxes can also help increase the effectiveness of antidepressants and mental health counseling.
As with any supplemental treatments, those with certain conditions should check with their health care professionals before engaging in biofeedback or light therapies. More information about the biofeedback and light therapy resources can be found on the counseling services’ website.
For those considering seeking mental health assistance, Jaronski wants to reassure them that all appointments and matters discussed are kept confidential.
“We’re not sharing information with faculty, friends, family or random people on the street,” she said. “And we’re used to talking to all kinds of people, we’re used to talking to people who might not know what to say or how to say it.”
The office also offers an after-hours hotline service for those who are having a mental health crisis or need to talk to a mental health professional.
“Mental health issues don’t necessarily limit themselves to normal business hours,” Jaronski said.
The hotline can be reached by selecting the menu option under the office’s main phone number at 330-941-3737.
Upcoming groups include the following:
- Telling Your Story: 3 p.m. Feb. 2, 9 and 16
- Managing Anxiety/Stress for a Healthy Life: 12 p.m. every Friday
- Managing Life Transitions: 2 p.m. Feb. 1, 8, 15 and 22
- Step Out of Social Anxiety: 3 p.m. Feb 3, 10, 17 and 24; March 17, 24 and 31; April 7
- Self Care: 12 p.m. March 15, 22 and 29; April 5
- Gratitude — Finding Meaning and Thriving: 3 p.m. March 30; April 6, 13 and 20
For more information on groups and resources available this semester, visit Student Counseling Services’ website.