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Nolan Ryan | Col­legian

As aca­demic and per­sonal ambi­tions con­tinue to rise each year at Hillsdale College, more and more stu­dents are receiving coun­seling ser­vices. 

In 2012, there were 800 coun­seling visits in the course of the school year by stu­dents and staff at Hillsdale College’s Ambler Health Center. Last year, there were over 2,000. With six coun­selors on campus, that amounts to  more than 115 total hours of coun­seling available per week. Brock Lutz, director of health ser­vices, esti­mates that 35% of campus, including some staff and faculty, come for coun­seling.

The ser­vices available at the health center include indi­vidual and group coun­seling for issues such as pornog­raphy, sub­stance recovery, family dys­function, stress, and eating dis­orders. Most stu­dents, however, set up one-on-one meetings to discuss per­sonal struggles and goals, focusing mainly on time man­agement and stress, according to Lutz.

“I think that we have seen more anxiety and stress over the last couple of years,” Lutz said. “We are recruiting higher test scores, higher-func­tioning, Type A stu­dents who really want to do excel­lently and do every­thing, which is really chal­lenging or impos­sible to do. Anxiety and stress tend to be the most pressing issues we see.”

A Hillsdale student’s workload can become over­whelming and stressful, but Lutz said he pro­vides a checklist that addresses the key to a healthy and pro­ductive life.

“One of the places we start is the physical,” he said. “Getting exercise, moving, taking walks, just getting out, eating, and making sure you’re feeding yourself well, making sure you have balance in your diet, and then sleep.”

The average college student gets about six to six-and-a-half hours of sleep per night, which can lead to increased anxiety and depression, according to a study by the Uni­versity of Georgia. With very little time spent sleeping at night, many stu­dents turn to naps as a form of reju­ve­nation. 

“I often don’t sleep well at night, so I find myself feeling par­tic­u­larly tired during the day,” freshman Russell Breaux said. “Some­times I don’t have the energy to socialize, so the best thing I can do to relax is take naps.”

Sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sionals have studied the effects of napping during the day, and while some argue they are ben­e­ficial and a great form of relax­ation, others dis­courage naps due to the dis­ruption of the body’s natural sleep cycle. 

“One of the things I tell stu­dents that they don’t like is no naps,” Lutz said. “Don’t take naps because naps com­pletely disrupt your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep at night, so when you go to sleep and you might even be tired, your body does not hit REM sleep fast enough. What happens is you end up laying in bed, you are awake, you get frus­trated, and then you don’t sleep or sleep in late.”

In coun­seling, Lutz also encourages stu­dents to build a routine around sleep in order to limit stress and max­imize pro­duc­tivity. 

“Get yourself to bed at 11 and wake up at 6 or 6:30,” Lutz said. “Go to bed at around the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning because your body likes to get in a routine.”

While getting oneself in physical shape with the proper sleep and a healthy diet is a major chunk of a person’s overall health, Lutz places spir­itual well-being at the center of a healthy life.

“I believe faith is the most important thing in a person’s life, but for some people, this is just the beginning stages of that journey,” Lutz said. “For everyone, they can think about what’s their purpose, where do they get their values and sig­nif­i­cance from, and those are deeply spir­itual ques­tions that everyone struggles to answer.”

In order to address the emo­tional, social, behav­ioral, and mental aspects of a student’s well-being, Lutz begins by asking stu­dents about their beliefs and moral code.

“Whether someone is a prac­ticing Christian or a Jewish person or whatever else, still the spir­itual domain is very important so we can have broad con­ver­sa­tions with everyone like, ‘What are your morals? What are the values that you hold dear in your life? What do you want your life to be about?’” Lutz said.

Lutz and the other ther­a­pists focus on what the indi­vidual student wants to discuss. The counselor’s job is to listen and provide pro­fes­sional direction in an envi­ronment that allows stu­dents to freely express their struggles and get proper help. 

“We are com­pletely con­fi­dential here,” Lutz said. “The only thing we can break con­fi­den­tiality for is if a person is homi­cidal, sui­cidal, or psy­chotic.”

Despite con­fi­den­tiality, some stu­dents prefer to seek coun­seling off campus and choose to meet with Shari Mayote, a ther­apist who works in Hillsdale on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mayote meets mainly with stu­dents who are entering college, but she said they are dealing with similar issues that she sees with college stu­dents.  

“I would say that anxiety and bal­ancing rela­tion­ships and schoolwork are the most common issues that I see,” Mayote said. “I think owning feelings and emo­tions and real­izing they are a part of life is very important.” 

Both Lutz and Mayote said they believe lack of sleep is affecting the mental well-being of stu­dents at Hillsdale. 

“If you’re not getting sleep you are going to be more anxious and more depressed,” Mayote said. “You should aim for eight hours of sleep and some people need more.”

Whether stu­dents are ath­letes, members of mul­tiple clubs, or just stressed, Hillsdale College has helped many stu­dents recover and manage their busy schedules. 

Senior Caleb Clark says college can be a stressful time of life so stu­dents should take advantage of these easily-acces­sible resources while they have the chance.

“Going to the coun­seling ses­sions at health ser­vices has actually improved my mental health quite a bit,” Clark said. “Having someone to talk to and work through things going on in your life really does help.” 

The Health and Wellness Center has free coun­seling appoint­ments available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The typical appointment is any­where from 45 to 50 minutes.