NIU students: Free mental health services are a short walk or phone call away

Counseling and Consultation Services staff

Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) provides a sympathetic ear and a wealth of resources for free. Students can speak one-on-one with CCS’s counselors or participate in group therapy. To ensure that students receive the necessary support outside of the office, Consultation Services helps faculty, parents, and peers to better understand and assist their students and loved ones through consultation and educational programming. CCS can also refer students to professional counselors in the area if specialized assistance is required.

In addition, CCS extends its services across campus with comforting activities to help students learn coping skills, such as monthly therapy dogs at Stevenson Hall on the second Monday of every month, weekly mindful meditation drop-in groups, anxiety and stress management groups, and outreach activities such as Chai Chat and How the Health Are You, NIU?

Outreach efforts continue to grow to keep up with the high demand for mental health services, an issue which Brooke Ruxton, executive director of CCS says, “[is] a huge challenge for counseling centers across the country, not just NIU. Over the last five years, more and more students have been seeking services for mental health concerns and so [everyone’s] trying to keep up with that growth in demand.”

The National College Health Assessment reports that, in the past 12 months, the number of students seeking individual and group therapy services at CCS has grown from 5.6 percent of undergraduate students in 2012 to 7.3 percent in 2017.

The increase in the need for services is a positive sign of decreased stigma regarding mental health treatment and the need for support. This also suggests that students, family, and faculty should come together to provide additional support and understanding for each other.

CCS provides services to students dealing with a number of issues including significant mental health diagnoses, crises, and phase of life concerns, whether that be struggles with relationships, exploring their identity, staying connected with family, coming to school, or facing graduation and thinking about what their next steps are.

The CCS office is located in the Campus Life Building. Students can walk in, Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to meet with a counselor. Community members can also call to consult with a staff member about students they are concerned about. CCS offers 24-hour on-call services at 815-753-1212 for those in crisis or needing immediate assistance.

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