Marshall University Counseling Center sees increase in students

Marshall University’s Counseling Center has been providing an array of services for students for many years. As well as offering couples, personal and group counseling, the center works closely with the Women’s Center and Marshall University Wellness.

The Women’s Center focuses on sexual assault prevention and therapy, while Marshall Wellness assists students with substance abuse issues.

The center currently has five mental health specialists that serve as counselors, but Carla Lapelle, director of the center and associate dean of Student Affairs, said they could use more.

Throughout her years working at the center, Lapelle said she has noticed a few changes.

“At one time, especially among those who live in Appalachia, there was a huge stigma about counseling,” Lapelle said. “That seems to be decreasing remarkably. Students who come here now are not afraid to seek out help, and that’s really a wonderful thing.”

Lapelle started working at the center in 1986, first as the student health education programs coordinator and as a part time counselor. Not only has the staff increased since Lapelle’s first years at the center, but so has the number of patients.

“I think students are coming to college with more issues,” Lapelle said. “Each year, there seems to be an increase in the number and severity of issues. I suppose it is hard to say whether they’re just now feeling comfortable coming in or whether the numbers are increasing.”

For students who cannot always make time for an appointment, the Counseling Center offers many outreach programs for students, including stress management and healthy relationship workshops. The center also offers on-call crisis intervention. One problem Lapelle said she notices is that students must sometimes wait up to two weeks to meet with a counselor. She said she believes this is why the walk-in opportunities provided are crucial to running the center.

“If a student feels like they need some assistance, and they call for an appointment and they can’t talk to anyone for two weeks, that verges on doing a disservice to our campus,” Lapelle said. “We do offer walk-ins, so they can walk in that day and talk to someone.”

One of the greatest aspects of working at the center for Lapelle is knowing she has helped so many students during her time there, she said.

“It’s really great to see someone that was struggling, now very confident and doing well in a career,” Lapelle said. “We have certainly saved a number of lives. We were a catalyst for a change that helped them to survive.”

The Counseling Center and its counselors can be reached by calling 304-696-3111. It is located on the first floor of Prichard Hall.

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]