Student Wellness Program prioritizes mental health

The collaboration with National University works to help students with their struggles.

Sarina Grossi, Editor-in-Chief

It’s challenging to get through college when a student’s mental health is at stake. Priorities can stack up against one after another and it becomes difficult to navigate through those piling issues. Luckily, Los Medanos College offers a Student Wellness Program that is available to individuals in need.

Initially known as John F. Kennedy University, National University’s Community-Based Counseling Programs teamed up with Contra Costa Community College District along with LMC in 2016 to offer wellness appointments to all students. The Student Wellness program consists of the LMC Care Team and National University’s JFK School of Psychology counselors.

“[The Student Wellness Program] offers comforting support and resources to help students get back on track academically,” said LMC Administrative Assistant for Counseling and Student Support Sharonda Frazier.

With 17 full-time counselors and an additional team of part-time counselors, the LMC Care Team works with students who are experiencing a crisis. Students who are struggling with non-academic concerns can find support with the LMC Care Team, who will immediately set them up with a counselor who can help. These counselors will schedule follow-up appointments to check in with students in need. The care team also offers personal development counseling which focuses on personal stressors that impact academic performance.

When it comes to academic or non-crisis problems, the 5 CBCP or Student Wellness counselors work remotely to provide students with 5 to 8 individual therapy sessions. Students dealing with anything from educational anxiety to depression can meet (by appointment only) with one of the clinically trained counselors. The sessions have a basic three-phase structure, with the first meetings focusing on assessments and goal setting, the second group of meetings looking at resource and skill identification and the third set of meetings translating skills and aftercare plans.

We aim to help students understand their strengths and learn skills to cope, so they can deal with most other issues on their own. If a student is committed to helping themselves, then therapy can really help them grow in so many ways, personally, academically and professionally.

— Jessica Moniz

“We aim to help students understand their strengths and learn skills to cope, so they can deal with most other issues on their own,” said Jessica Moniz, the CBCP coordinator and an LMC adjunct academic counselor. “If a student is committed to helping themselves, then therapy can really help them grow in so many ways, personally, academically and professionally.”

To be able to access the individual wellness counseling appointments for free, students must be enrolled in at least 6 units and fill out a referral form. Anyone can fill out referral forms, including faculty and students, on behalf of anyone attending LMC. After submitting a referral form, a Student Wellness counselor will reach out to the student and schedule a brief screening session that will determine whether or not the program’s services will be satisfactory for the student or if they need to give them outside references.

Frazier said that Counseling Services hopes to provide students with a safe space for anything.

“Having that friendly face on campus where they feel comfortable expressing themselves I think is very important and contributes to student success,” she said. “The faculty and staff in counseling are here to help all students and I hope that all students feel comfortable calling the department or coming to visit.”

Although the program offers students accessible counseling, Moniz said that students must understand that the program will not automatically solve ongoing matters.

“Keep in mind it is brief therapy and is more goal-oriented. Therapy is not usually about solving your problems, but about helping students to see how they can solve their own problems. We just offer guidance along the way,” said Moniz.

Flyer for upcoming dates for “Grief and Loss Workshops.” (Flyer provided by Jessica Moniz)

In addition to counseling services, the Student Wellness Program hosts regular workshops and events. This includes a current district “Mindfulness Challenge” that promotes healthy practices for prizes until March 31 and the upcoming “Wellness in Words: Poetry and Film” event on March 22. National University is also offering a free series of grief and loss workshops, with the next one happening April 15 at 4 p.m.

As a former Diablo Valley College student who struggled with mental health and wellness, Moniz expresses that working on oneself is vital to maintaining a balanced life.

“Our mental health impacts everything we do, everything we think about ourselves and others, impacts our relationships, our ability to function at work in school and in life,” said Moniz. “If our mental health is in good shape, then everything else tends to be a little easier…   If our mental health is in bad shape, this becomes more difficult.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Student Wellness Program, visit the Student Wellness Program info page and the general Student Wellness page. For those that wish to submit a referral, please visit this jot form.