FSU Counseling Center

Emma Delk, Staff Reporter

Stress has taken on many new forms due to the pandemic, especially for students who now battle both the COVID-19 pandemic requirements and classwork.  Nowadays, it can be especially difficult to discern the typical worries of student life from deeper problems that need special attention. Signs such as changes in appetite or sleep, difficulty concentrating, an increase in alcohol or drug intake, worry consuming most thoughts, and trouble processing information can be indicators that you or a loved one needs to seek serious help.  Help can be found easily at Fairmont State in the Counseling Center, with dedicated counselors to assist in coping with the worries of everyday life and the pandemic. 

Everyone reacts to life differently, particularly in times of high stress, so it is never “wrong” or “unneeded” to seek help. Shannon Ackerman, a mental health therapist at Fairmont’s Counseling Center, talks about the stigma surrounding getting therapy: “Seeking out counseling does not mean you have a problem or are broken. Your emotions are valid. Sometimes it takes getting professional help for an issue to be able to work through it more efficiently or effectively.” Ackerman explains that all meetings are confidential, so if one is hesitant about receiving help because of privacy concerns, it is between only they and their therapist. 

Ackerman also shared some general advice for students during these trying times. She recommends doing “bilateral” movements when one is feeling overwhelmed, as these types of movements work different parts of the brain. “Bilateral” movements include walking, jogging, playing on an instrument, or even just tapping both feet on the ground.  Ackerman also recommends that, “We should not socially isolate while distancing from people”.  Scheduling time out of one’s day to have a group Zoom with friends or calling a family member can provide the human interaction needed in these lonely times.  In addition, she said, “You should include some type of structure in your daily routine to help cope with anxiety and the constant change we experience today.  This structure can be as simple as waking up at the same time every day”. 

The Counseling Center is open Monday- Friday from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, with extended hours on Monday and Tuesday until 6:00 pm.  Appointments are offered over video conference, call-in through the TeleHealth service, or even in-person if one is uncomfortable with not being in person.  To schedule a consultation or appointment, one can call the Counseling Center at 304-333-3661, email at [email protected].edu, or complete an online Appointment Request Form.  Fairmont’s counselors Shannon Ackerman and Andrea Pammer are always ready to help.  Ackerman says “My goal as a counselor is to validate what everyone is experiencing.”