Led to be here for student mental health
“God called me to do this, and it was just the change I needed,” said Kimberly Perkins, the new director of counseling services at Charleston Southern University. “I love working with young adults because they hold such promise and potential.”
Perkins’ vision for the counseling center at CSU is to implement more outreach on campus so that students know who they are and are more comfortable engaging with them. Her personal vision as a counselor is to make students feel comfortable and to find tools that will help them be healthy, happy and successful. “I want to help them achieve their goals, and to do that we have to find strategies that are going to work in their lives,” she said.
The counseling center had another newcomer join the team in fall 2018 – Dr. Frank Budd. He previously served as director of the counseling center at the College of Charleston. Before that, he served in the U.S. Air Force more than two decades. Budd said he felt led to be here.
“I have been a Christian since 1989 and always wanted to work in full-time ministry,” he said. “I felt God calling me to move from CofC into more direct work with the faith community.”
His favorite part about working as a clinical counselor on a college campus? “I love the opportunity to help people at this stage of their life negotiate life’s trials and tribulations, and for many, to help heal some deep wounds prior to college. The students here are so smart; many love the Lord or are interested in exploring their faith and spiritual questions, and being here allows me to truly minister to them as both a Christian and a psychologist.”
Some of the common issues treated on a college campus are relationship issues, anxiety, transition issues and interpersonal conflicts. “If a student is struggling in areas they’ve never struggled with before they shouldn’t ignore the signs or wait too long,” Perkins said. Perkins encourages students to seek treatment early on to prevent things from spiraling and harming other areas of life.
Although the stigma surrounding counseling and therapy is fading in society, many people are still scared or ashamed to seek treatment. “I think everyone should go to counseling at some point. It is so helpful to have an objective person who isn’t going to judge you and will keep everything confidential. There is no shame in seeking help,” said Perkins.
For students who choose not to go to counseling, self-care is important to implement in order to minimize stress. Perkins recommends exercising every day, even if that is just a walk around the Reflection Pond on campus. Other ways to decrease stress and anxiety are journaling, listening to music, being outside, eating well and getting plenty of sleep. “Don’t neglect yourself. After all, you only get one body,” said Perkins.
CSU’s counseling services has a unique feature – the faith component. “Students at CSU truly have a safe space to explore their thoughts and questions about God, faith and their purpose in life. The counselors know how to integrate faith and mental health services, and collaborate with student clients to create a care plan that best serves the students holistically,” Budd said.
Though a small department, counseling services is able to operate without a waiting list. Students receive high quality care from Christian professionals – at no additional cost and within a reasonable time frame.
Some students desire to go to counseling but don’t want to seek treatment on campus and mix different areas of their lives. The CSU counseling services office can refer students to practices in the community as well as provide outside resources for them as they seek treatment.
Counseling services offers various events throughout the year that benefit the campus community – from suicide awareness to stress busters the week before finals – all with a focus on self-care. To learn more about counseling services, go to charlestonsouthern.edu/counseling.
Photo – student at Paws & Relax in December 2018, an event during Stress Busters Week.