Counseling Center supports students amid climbing COVID-19 cases

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Maggie Willard

The counseling center works to support students amid rise in COVID-19 cases and a remote start to the semester.

Joe Zerilli, Senior Reporter

With classes starting online and COVID-19 cases on the rise, Oakland University’s Counseling Center (OUCC) is here to help all students get through these challenging times. The OUCC is offering free sessions for counseling and therapy until July 1.

Dr. David Schwartz, director of the OUCC, provides insight on how COVID-19 has impacted the OUCC and how it has adapted to best accommodate students seeking assistance.

The biggest issue that the OUCC has faced is the sheer influx of students seeking counseling due to COVID-19. In October of last year, there was a point where the waitlist reached roughly 80 students and the OUCC was forced to cease most operations.

Dr. Schwartz is hopeful, however, that the addition of three new positions will help better serve all those who are requesting counseling or therapy. The positions include a full-time group coordinator and two other temporary full-time positions that will last at least until the end of the school year.

The vast majority of the work is done through remote appointments — in-person meetings are mainly emergencies or walk-in appointments. With the plan to resume in-person classes on Jan. 31, the OUCC intends to follow suit.

“I don’t see us going back to many in-person until the [31st] but even then [it’ll be] mostly virtual,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Therapists have learned to adapt to the style, [and] work has remained very satisfying.”

As well as counseling, group sessions are also currently being held online, but the goal is to have them in-person when it is safe. There are two types of group sessions: a social anxiety group and an academic stress group. To sign up, fill out the online Google form.

According to Dr. Schwartz, even if students feel that they don’t have enough time to set aside for their mental health, chances are they have more time than they think. 

“When your plate is full, you have two options,” Dr. Schwartz said. “Since you can’t add another plate or more time to the day, you can either move stuff around or take things off of your plate.”

While counseling or therapy is the prefered method, Dr. Schwartz also offers alternative options to boost mental health in a pinch. These methods include doing a body scan, simple meditating or keeping a journal.

Dr. Schwartz offered one important tip to help manage stress, anxiety and depression: adjust your expectations. In a time where nothing is promised, it is essential for people to realize that they are doing their best given the current situation.

“It’s really imperative to adjust expectations to the reality of what we’re living in,” Dr. Schwartz said. “You are doing the best you can in light of the circumstances. Our baseline anxiety is higher now with remote learning and COVID-19. It’s okay to not be okay right now.”

The OUCC is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., with extended hours on Wednesdays. If you or someone you know is struggling, please feel free to reach out to the Counseling Center at (248) 370-3465 or go to the office located in the Graham Health Center to schedule an appointment.