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Demand rises for mental health help; peer counselors fill void at Hampton University

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Posted at 3:43 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 16:57:59-04

HAMPTON, Va. - The pandemic put a strain on mental health of people across the country, to include students at our colleges and universities.

With an increase in demand for mental health help, Hampton University turned to a select number of students to act as counselors to help bridge the gap between students and mental health professionals.

“They kind of understand the culture of our student;, they have a really good pulse about what’s happening with our students," Dr. Kristie Norwood, Director of Counseling at Hampton University, said. "They, in a lot of ways, can be kind of the first line to pick up on some of these challenges.”

Since the fall of 2019, the Student Counseling Center has seen a 9% increase in appointments requested and a 7% increase in appointments attended.

“We’ve absolutely seen an increase with anxiety and depression and just challenges with the adjustment for our students, but also for all of us,” Norwood said.

To help with the growing demand, peer counselors like Ashantae Winestock step in. She is a third-year psychology major who helps her fellow students process the challenges of college life.

“A lot of the experience that they have we can relate to it better - like classes, being stressed out from midterms and stuff,” Winestock said.

The peer counselors receive training in suicide prevention, crisis intervention, how to listen and other skills.

“What do you do if a student discloses that they’re in distress? How do you help a student that’s in crisis? How do you help a student that is just struggling to make friends?" said Dr. Norwood.

With more students starting the conversation about their mental health, Winestock said she's happy to listen.

“Personally, I do find it rewarding because I get to help people around campus and provide that safe space for them,” said Winestock.

For more information on the Hampton University Student Counseling Center, click here.

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