‘Ask Me Anything,’ counseling session draws 15 students; other scheduled

Penn State Center for Collegiate Mental Health

NEW ORLEANS (February 14, 2020) – About 15 students took advantage of the “Ask Me Anything” five-minute counseling chats Jan. 22 in Kearny Dining Hall, and the Student Support Services plans more such events in the future.

Sherile Watts, a licensed counselor housed in 115 Dent, said the goal was to make students aware of the services her office is able to provide and to break the ice with small talk about a student’s daily life and how things are going with school.

“The overall goal of this event was publicity and informing the student body of how therapy services are available at no cost,” Watts said.

Watts, who is the sole counselor at present (DU typically has two full-time counselors), said the number of students who make appointments for the typical 30-minute session can vary, but she estimated about 12-15 students a week show up. She said the numbers have increased since the start of the academic year.

More events are planned and will be posted on Bleu Buzz and SEAL announcements, she said.

Concern about mental health on college campuses has grown over the years, with anxiety, depression and relationship issues being in the top three for students in 2018-19, according to a recent survey. Complicating this for minority students is the documented tendency of African Americans not to seek mental health support services, so their needs go unmet.

For example, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, research has found that many blacks rely on faith, family and social communities for emotional support rather than turning to health care professionals, even though medical or therapeutic treatment may be necessary. Other reasons not to seek help include a lack of knowledge (considering a conditional a personal weakness); distrust; and inequality of care.

The counseling office at Dillard is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Watts said she is always on call. For appointments, email Watts at swatts@dillard.edu or call 504.816.4154.

(Bria McCann contributed to this report.)