New director, home for wellness in Counseling and Consultation Services

NIU’s Counseling and Consultation Services has unified with Student Wellness initiatives on campus — giving Huskies a simpler path to seek support for their wellbeing and mental health through the Division of Student Affairs.

With CCS and wellness offerings combined, Associate Vice President Kelly Wesener Michael says Student Affairs will continue to lead NIU in proactively supporting students and creating a campus culture of wellbeing.

“With the change in Student Affairs’ organizational structure, Student Wellness will enhance and inform the important work of Counseling and Consultation Services, ensuring a holistic approach to student support,” said Wesener Michael. “As part of a larger campus wellness initiative, we will rely on collaborative partnerships across the institution to continue our efforts in maintaining a comprehensive, coordinated focus on student wellbeing.”

Tim Paquette will serve as the new director of Counseling and Consultation Services. 

CCS also gained more permanent leadership this fall, with the appointment of Director Tim Paquette from an interim co-director position he held since June 2019. Paquette obtained his doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Purdue University and worked in a counseling role there for two years as a doctoral candidate. He hit a 16-year milestone working for NIU in August, with four years as a staff psychologist followed by 12 years as assistant director.

“Seeing so many Huskies overcome challenges to work toward their degrees and meet their goals has been especially rewarding, and that’s why I’m here,” said Paquette. “Our entire staff at the center is committed to providing multiculturally informed counseling services that meet the unique needs of our diverse family of Huskies.”

Students can access a variety of services through CCS to help them take care of their mental health, from activities and events benefitting their everyday wellbeing to counseling and crisis support. Paquette encourages Huskies to set up an initial consultation with CCS to receive assistance — which may include individual or group counseling, and referrals to additional services on campus and within the community.

Students can call 815-753-1206 at any time for immediate access to a counselor — staff are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to serve Huskies. Families and employees are also welcome to consult with the CCS team if they’d like to seek guidance on behalf of a student.

“We’re happy to have conversations about how we can assist friends, parents and employees who are concerned about the mental health and wellbeing of students,” said Paquette. “We encourage reaching out to us for a consultation as soon as possible, so we can help coordinate support for the student.”

CCS provides students with a broad spectrum of mental health programs — from an “Introduction to Mindfulness” Zoom meeting every Wednesday at noon to more specialized services for substance use, anger management, and eating and body image concerns.

Student Wellness staff also offer resources on a range of topics to benefit Huskie health — including healthy eating and staying active, time management, relationships and sexual health, stress and sleeping habits, and alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention.

“Our ultimate goal is to help Huskies make healthier choices, so we’re focused on all issues that impact student academic success,” said Associate Director of Student Wellness Andrea Drott. “By aligning with CCS, we’re able to provide extra support that may allow students to manage mental-health concerns before they’re presented in a clinical setting.”

Huskies can check out regular events through CCS’ Student Wellness arm, many of which have been virtual this year. “Well-O-Ween” will offer a virtual week of wellness activities every day leading up to Halloween.

Ongoing webinar workshops include “Coping Through COVID-19” and a “Finding Forward” series focused on stress management, coping skills, and building resilience. Anyone is welcome to request an outreach presentation for a student group on campus.

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