Griffin Ell / Art Director

A stressful start to the semester may have forced mental health to the back of Keene State College students’ minds.

“The complications of students getting to school and figuring out classes and testing and housing and all those complicated pieces, that has caused a lot of students to put their emotional health on the back burner,” said Forrest Seymour, the Assistant Director for Emotional Health Programming at the college.

When students first returned to campus, counseling appointments were very low. Brian Quigley, Executive Director of the Wellness Center Brian Quigley said that they prepared for higher numbers and were surprised to see limited appointments were made.

“It was an unsettling reality that we knew there were people struggling, but they weren’t reaching out. We are so determined to be a resource and to support everyone,” said Quigley.

Within the last few weeks though, Seymour said they have seen a steady rise in numbers, something he hopes continues.

“As we are settling in and getting into a routine, people are now reaching out to us at a higher rate. We had a good number of students reaching out to us in the last couple weeks and I think that will continue on,” said Seymour.

However, some students may still be concerned about virtual appointments. The center did provide services last semester and through the summer online, which allowed them to learn and improve the way they provide services over Zoom.

“In March, we kinda had to scramble to continue providing services over telehealth. From late March on, through the summer and into the fall though, we have gotten better and figured out better ways to deliver our services. At this point, we are providing state-of-the-art online confidential services to our students,” said Seymour.

The counselors now use a specific type of Zoom that is for medical purposes and has a much higher level of confidentiality. This way, the center can offer services to students on campus and off without worrying about information leaking.

“I think Zoom is better than phone calls. I think I would be comfortable doing them that way, but I think it depends on someone’s situation if they are,” said first-year Natalie Burns.

Despite the changes to develop a comfortable counseling appointment, the virtual counseling experience may not be the same as an in-person experience.

“I have done them [Zoom appointments] before and it does work for me. I definitely prefer in person though. It is definitely a lot different than being in person if that is what you’re used to or that is what you’ve experienced before,” said first-year Kiley Young.

Seymour agreed and said that there are a lot of setbacks with online appointments, but he did say that any appointment is beneficial.

“I think that they are far more valuable than not having a counseling session at all. At first, we were skeptical about how we would provide quality services to our students if we have to do it all by Zoom. Over the last six months of doing this work though, we have found that we can do pretty good work. It may not be as great as in-person, but it’s definitely a lot better than sitting alone with our concerns and not having someone to talk to,” said Seymour.

If students want to set up an appointment, they should call the Wellness Center number. Both Seymour and Quigley said they will help any student figure out what is best for them by evaluating their situation. There are special circumstances where students can have an in-person appointment. There is also a room in the Elliot Center readily available for students to do their Zoom appointment in if they cannot find a comfortable space.

“In a time where there’s not a pandemic, we know that there are a lot of people who are suffering alone and do not seek out professional help. I think there is a higher number of those people now because it is so stressful and confusing. If students are concerned about themselves or about anybody else, please contact us,” said Seymour.

The Wellness Center’s phone number is 603-358-2437 and the after hours hotline is 603-358-2436.


Kiana Joler can be contacted at:

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