(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College is about new beginnings. Most students are taking their first steps into their professional lives while being on their own for the first time. There is little time to take in the new environment before classes, homework, bills and roommates come into play. Facing so many changes so quickly can lead to some TSTC students forgetting the importance of their mental health.
The last thing that TSTC instructors and staff want is for students to give up their goals due to mental health challenges. That is why the college offers its students a variety of resources to lean on in times of stress, anxiety or depression.
TSTC’s counselor at the Marshall campus, Angela Bross, offers her counseling services free of charge to students, even making herself available on weekends and evenings if needed. Whether students are brought to her by the staff or choose to visit on their own, her gentle voice, listening skills, smiles and hugs envelop them in a feeling of safety.
“It’s vital to have (your mental health) going (strong) in order to be successful,” Bross said. “A lot of times (students) don’t know how to redirect their anxiety or depression. If they don’t do that, they get so stressed out with classes because that’s unfamiliar territory. The burnout or the dropout rate can be amazing.”
TSTC Advocacy and Resource Center coach Lee Killingsworth knows how tight money can be for college students and the negative mental effects of worrying about such. That is why he makes sure the center’s food pantry is continuously full. Students can take 20 items from it per week, no questions asked. A clothing pantry is also in development.
Killingsworth is also able to assist with bills and will occasionally cook meals in the housing commons just so students have one less thing to worry about. However, he encourages students to find stress outlets on their own too.
“They’ve got to find that one thing that makes them forget about the stress,” Killingsworth said about students. “For some people, it’s driving; some people, it’s listening to music; some people, it’s yelling and screaming at the world. Everybody has their own thing that’s their outlet they can use.”
TSTC director of housing Jenna Peterson teams up with the Marshall campus’s four resident assistants — RAs — to maintain a positive environment. Plenty of fun events are held throughout the school year for students to kick back and get to know each other. She, Killingsworth and the RAs agree that one of the best things for a student’s mental health is to make new friends.
“Find something that you have in common with somebody, and go out and have dinner or do that activity together,” Peterson said. “Make a friend, make a memory, do the things that you never thought you would do. You never know how it’s going to change your life.”
Resident assistant Alexis Barrientos is keen to remind students of the importance of communication in times of conflict between roommates. Fellow RA Tristan Matthew agrees, but also recommends that students reach out to their RAs in times of dispute.
“Anytime students have an issue, they can just call us,” Matthew said. “We can intervene and be a mediator or overall boost morale.”
The Marshall campus’s Counseling and Mental Health Services office can be reached Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 903-923-3318. For life-threatening mental health emergencies, call 911, contact campus police, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline may be reached at 800-273-8255 or by dialing 988.
For more information on TSTC, visit tstc.edu.