Joe Wyatt
Published November 21, 2016

Removing roadblocks to student success is among the highest priorities at Amarillo College, which is why the Counseling Center was established this fall on the Washington Street Campus – to address students’ emotional well-being.

CounselingCenterA 2016 survey by the American College Health Association determined that 17 percent of college students nationwide were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety problems during the past year, while 14 percent were diagnosed with or treated for depression.

The AC Counseling Center was conceived to provide students with tools to help improve their mental and emotional health. Specifically, the AC Counseling Center gives students tactics to help with test anxiety, relationship problems, matters of self-worth, loss of a loved one, eating disorders, etc. – life issues that serve as barriers to academic success.

All currently enrolled AC students are invited to take advantage of the Center’s free and confidential, one-on-one counseling opportunities. Sessions are by appointment only and are conducted by specifically trained graduate-level university students who work under the direct supervision of Dr. Alan Kee, professor of psychology and director of the Amarillo College Counseling Center.

To make an appointment, please call Promise Garrison at (806) 371-5191. The Center is located in a succession of offices on the second floor of the Student Service Center, beginning with Room 227.

“We’re here to meet the needs of each individual student; it’s not one-size-fits-all,” said Kristen Barrick, one of two counselors presently serving student clients at the Counseling Center. “We want our students to get exactly what they hope to get out of counseling.

“We’re solution-focused,” she said. “We’re looking for ways we can get our clients through school successfully, while equipping them with techniques and strategies, the tools they need to be successful in dealing with issues not only right now, but beyond their time at AC.”

Counselor Lindsey Eggleston said clients are welcome to broach any subject, from overwhelming social burdens to anxiety or depression. Interpersonal, behavioral and psychological difficulties not only hinder academic performance, she said, but they also impede a healthy emotional lifestyle, particularly at this time of year.

Eggleston says that the number of Americans who struggle with stress rises significantly with the annual approach of the holiday season.

“National statistics show that 30 percent of college students face mental health issues, Eggleston said. “But the number increases during the holiday season. Statistics show that 90 percent of all Americans struggle with stress during this time of the year.

“People face financial strain from overspending,” she said. “They have unrealistic expectations about wanting everything to be perfect. And they respond with the easiest negative coping mechanisms, like overeating or binge-watching television.”

The Counseling Center is open only to currently enrolled AC students, but it offers the following positive tips that anyone might find useful for coping with stresses this holiday season:

  • Keep expectations balanced – try not to make everything “the best ever” and know that things can and will go wrong.
  • Don’t try to do too much yourself – ask for help when it’s needed.
  • Don’t isolate yourself – if you are feeling lonely, find a way to get out of the house and connect with others.
  • Don’t overspend – create a budget.
  • Watch your diet and remember to exercise – enjoy holiday foods, but stay active; take a walk after a meal.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol – this can lead to worsened depression.